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Joseph Hawkins | African American Inventors and their Inventions

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Joseph Hawkins

Many epicureans argue that it is man’s ability to cook his food before eating it that sets him apart from the animals. Thousands of years ago it was probably an accident that taught man the benefits of heating meat over fire, and since then, the culinary arts have grown to be a huge part of the life of every single person on the planet. But have you ever stopped to think about the people who make the devices that allow us to cook our meat and food? Without them, we may well have still been roasting meat with a stick suspended over an open flame, and not by choice! One person who has forever altered the landscape of preparing food is Joseph Hawkins.

In the case of too many African American inventors, the only evidence that remains of their lives is their patent, and unfortunately, this is true of Joseph Hawkins. His patent for an improved gridiron, which we know as a grill pan or heavy pan, was awarded to him in 1845. It featured a row of corrugated steel in a standard pan with a heavy handle. There are a number of benefits to cooking in this way. Firstly, the fat can drain off of food, which makes it far healthier. Also, the heating process is quicker due to improved ventilation created by the furrows in the pan, and of course, fewer contact points reduces the surface areas where food can become stuck to the pan.

While it may have been unusual for a man to create this kind of design all of those years ago, Hawkins clearly started a trend, continued by people like George Foreman. A gridiron like this is effective, affordable to make, and sturdy. So next time you use one in your home, spare a thought for its inventor, Joseph Hawkins.

 

 

 
 
 
 

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