National Cook Out Day

Family enjoying a cookout in a sunny backyard, with colorful summer outfits, a picnic table with mouthwatering food, and a vibrant outdoor setting..
National cook out day illustration

Summer is the perfect time for firing up the grill and indulging in some smoky deliciousness. And what better day to do that than on National Cook Out Day? This mouthwatering holiday is all about gathering your loved ones, relishing scrumptious food, and basking in the warm weather. So put on your apron, grab your tongs, and get ready for a sizzling celebration!

When is Cook Out Day?

It's national cook out day on the 4th July.

The Birth of National Cook Out Day

While the origins of National Cook Out Day are as hazy as the smoke from a barbecue grill, one thing is for sure - it's a day worth celebrating. This beloved holiday has become a treasured tradition for many Americans, marking the unofficial start of summer and a time to enjoy the great outdoors.

People around the country eagerly anticipate this day, planning cookouts that feature a smorgasbord of grilled delights. From hamburgers and hot dogs to mouthwatering ribs and grilled veggies, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Bringing People Together

Cooking out isn't just about the delicious food; it's also about bringing people together. National Cook Out Day is all about spending quality time with loved ones, savoring delectable meals, and creating lasting memories. Whether you're hosting a backyard bash or attending a neighborhood cookout, the camaraderie and joy that come with this holiday are truly special.

A Summer Tradition

Cooking out is an integral part of American culture, especially during the summer months. There's a certain magic in gathering around a grill, enjoying grilled favorites, and relishing in the simple pleasures of good company and great food. National Cook Out Day celebrates this cherished tradition and encourages people to embrace the joys of outdoor cooking.

So Much More Than Food

While the star of the show on National Cook Out Day is undoubtedly the food, this holiday is about more than just what's on the grill. It's a day to appreciate the beauty of nature, soak up the sun, and revel in the relaxed atmosphere of summer. From backyard games and sports to leisurely conversations and laughter, there's no shortage of fun and enjoyment on this celebratory day.

History behind the term 'Cook Out'


First Mention in Print

The term 'cook out' is believed to have originated in 1884 when it was first mentioned in print. It referred to an outdoor gathering where food was prepared and cooked on an open fire or grill. These early cookouts were primarily a means for communities to come together and enjoy a meal outdoors.


Outdoor Cooking Becomes a Trend

In 1939, the first known use of the term 'cook out' was recorded. As outdoor activities gained popularity, people started to gather in open spaces for communal meals. These gatherings often involved cooking food outdoors on grills or open fires. These events became known as cookouts, where friends and family would enjoy delicious grilled food and socialize in a relaxed and informal setting.

American Colonial Era (1607-1776)

The Arrival of the English Term 'Cook Out'

During the American Colonial Era, English settlers brought the term 'cook out' to North America. It referred to the act of cooking food outdoors, often as a social gathering or celebration. The concept of cooking outdoors was common in England, but it became particularly popular in the American colonies due to the abundance of open spaces and the tradition of communal feasting.


Rise of the Outdoor Feast

In the 1700s, outdoor feasts known as 'barbecues' became popular in the American South. These events were often held to celebrate special occasions or social gatherings, and they involved cooking large quantities of meat over an open flame. The term 'barbecue' itself originated from the Spanish word 'barbacoa', which referred to a wooden frame used for cooking meat over fire. These early gatherings laid the foundation for what would later be known as a 'cook out.'


Rise in Popularity

During the 1930s, 'cook out' started gaining popularity as a term associated with outdoor barbecues. As more families embraced the idea of cooking and dining outdoors, cookouts became a regular social activity. The simplicity and communal nature of cookouts made them a favorite pastime for many Americans.


The Emergence of Picnics

During the mid-19th century, picnics gained popularity as a leisure activity. Families and friends would pack meals and travel to scenic outdoor locations to enjoy their food in nature. The tradition of picnicking gradually merged with the concept of barbecues, resulting in a combination of outdoor cooking and dining experiences. This fusion played a significant role in the development of the modern 'cook out,' where grilling and socializing became integral parts of the event.


The Rise of Backyard Barbecues

During the 1950s, the concept of the cookout evolved into the more specific term 'backyard barbecue.' As more and more people were able to afford suburban homes with outdoor spaces, backyard barbecues became a popular social activity. The advent of affordable grills and the availability of packaged foods like hot dogs and hamburgers made it easier for families to host these gatherings.

Mid-19th Century

BBQ and Picnics Gain Popularity

As America expanded and the Industrial Revolution took hold, people began to gather for leisure activities outside their homes. Barbecues and picnics became popular forms of outdoor recreation and socialization. Cookouts, often synonymous with barbecues, were an integral part of these gatherings. The term 'cook out' further solidified its place in American culture during this period.


Cookouts during World War II

During World War II, cookouts played an important role in boosting morale among the troops stationed overseas. Soldiers would gather around portable grills to enjoy grilled food and foster a sense of camaraderie. This period solidified the association of 'cookouts' with outdoor cooking, community bonding, and shared meals. The tradition of cookouts became deeply ingrained in American culture as returning soldiers continued this tradition at home.


The Cookout Culture Spreads

Throughout the 1960s, the cookout culture continued to spread across the United States. With the rise of the civil rights movement and changing social dynamics, cookouts became a symbol of community and cultural integration. These events provided spaces where people from different backgrounds could come together, enjoy a meal, and build relationships. The cookout gained popularity as a means of fostering unity and understanding.

Early 20th Century

Introduction of the Grill

In the early 20th century, the advent of portable grills revolutionized the way people cooked outdoors. These grills allowed for more controlled and convenient outdoor cooking, making cookouts even more accessible and widespread. The portable grill became a staple of backyard parties, picnics, and other outdoor events.


Backyard Barbecues

The 1950s witnessed the rise of backyard barbecues, further solidifying the term 'cook out' in popular culture. Backyard cookouts became a symbol of suburban culture and were often featured in magazines and advertisements. The backyard cookout culture brought friends and families together to grill burgers, hot dogs, and various other delicious foods.


Cookout Mania

The 1970s saw a surge in cookout popularity, driven partly by the advent of portable grills and the growing interest in outdoor activities. Cookout mania swept the nation, with people gathering in parks, beaches, and backyards to enjoy grilled delicacies. Cookouts were no longer limited to special occasions but became a common way for people to socialize and enjoy good food.


Cookouts Become a National Pastime

By the 1970s, cookouts had firmly established themselves as a beloved national pastime. Families and friends eagerly awaited the summer months to organize outdoor cooking gatherings. Cookouts became associated with holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, where people would gather in parks, backyards, and other outdoor venues. The tradition of grilling and outdoor cooking had become deeply ingrained in American culture.


The Birth of Cookout Culture

In the 1950s, the cultural phenomenon of suburbanization led to the rise of backyard cookouts. As more families began to own homes with outdoor spaces, backyards became the preferred location for hosting cookout gatherings. Grilling became a symbol of suburban leisure and became intertwined with the American Dream. Outdoor cooking, often centered around barbecues and charcoal grills, became a beloved pastime and a way for friends and neighbors to socialize.

Post-World War II Era

Cookouts and Suburban Culture

After World War II, suburbanization took hold in America, and cookouts became deeply ingrained in the suburban culture. Backyard cookouts, often centered around the grill, became a symbol of suburban living and the American dream. Cookouts provided families and friends with a way to bond, celebrate, and enjoy the outdoors in their own private space.


The Modern Cookout

Today, the term 'cook out' encompasses a wide range of outdoor cooking events. It refers to casual gatherings where friends, families, and communities come together to grill food, enjoy outdoor activities, and celebrate special occasions. Cookouts have become a cherished tradition during holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Whether it involves a backyard grill, a park picnic area, or even a beachside bonfire, the modern cookout continues to bring people together and create lasting memories.

Modern Era

Cookouts in Popular Culture

Cookouts remain an integral part of American culture to this day. They have been featured extensively in popular culture, including movies, TV shows, and music. The term 'cook out' has become synonymous with outdoor cooking and social gatherings, evoking feelings of community, relaxation, and celebration. Whether it's a backyard barbecue or a beachside cookout, these events continue to bring people together.

Present Day

The Modern Cookout Experience

In the present day, the term 'cook out' continues to be used to describe outdoor gatherings centered around shared meals and grilling. The modern cookout experience has evolved to include a diverse range of cuisines and cooking techniques. From classic burgers and hot dogs to gourmet grilled dishes, cookouts have become an opportunity for culinary creativity and experimentation. Additionally, cookouts are not limited to just residential spaces but also take place in public parks, beaches, and even tailgating events.


A Beloved Tradition

Today, cookouts are deeply ingrained in American culture and are often associated with holidays, such as Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. They symbolize not just a way to enjoy delicious grilled food but also serve as a celebration of community and togetherness. Cookouts have evolved over the years, with various regional styles and unique recipes, making them a cherished tradition across the nation.

Did you know?

Did you know that the most popular item grilled on National Cook Out Day is the classic hamburger? Americans consume millions of burgers on this special day, proving that when it comes to cookouts, nothing beats a juicy patty served on a warm bun with all your favorite toppings!


romance food fun loved ones

First identified

4th July 2015

Most mentioned on

4th July 2018

Total mentions


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