If You Can't Take the Heat...

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Get out and barbecue! Memorial Day is here and that means it's time to throw another shrimp - or hamburger, hot dog, steak, chicken breast, or tofu skewer - on the barbie. Last year, Americans held 3.1 billion cookouts across the country, up from 2.7 billion in 1995. People barbecue an average of 4.6 times per month "in season" - that is, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But who needs good weather? Fifty-seven percent of backyard chefs use their grill year-round. Close to 15 million barbecue-grill units were sold in 1999, up from 11.4 million in 1995. But it isn't just about the food - it's about style. "The race to the biggest, most expensive grills is especially ego-centered," says Donna Myers, spokesperson for the Barbecue Industry Association, adding that some super-premium grills range from $3,500 up to $10,000. "There may be a question as to whether some of the people buying them even buy them to cook on," she says. "More likely some just want to show off their exotic backyard and a great grill is part of the picture."

BBQ Nation

Where the barbecuers are:

- South: 32%

- West: 23%

- North Central: 26%

- Northeast: 19%

Source: Mediamark Research, Inc.

Light My Fire

Top reasons why people barbecue:

- Like the flavor: 82%

- Easy: 72%

- Entertain guests: 66%

- Enjoy the outdoors: 64%

- Casual: 62%

- Avoid heating up the house: 62%

- Personally satisfying: 59%

Source: Barbecue Industry Association

You Are What You Grill

- Number of people who've barbecued in the past year: 66.2 million

Percent of barbecuers who...

- Are white: 87%

- Own a home: 74%

- Are married: 65%

- Have children: 48%

- Have an annual household income over $60,000: 43%

- Don't have a college degree: 42%

Source: Mediamark Research, Inc.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

- Percent of barbecuers who use lighter fluid to light charcoal grills: 66%

- Deaths per year from carbon monoxide poisoning from charcoal grills: 20

- Injuries per year from carbon monoxide poisoning from charcoal grills: 400

- Fires caused by gas grills per year: 500

- Injuries from gas grill fires per year: 20

- Percent of barbecuers with accidental death and dismemberment insurance: 21%

Source: (1) Barbecue Industry Association

(2) American Society of Safety Engineers

(3) Mediamark Research, Inc.

Meat-ia

Magazines and TV shows whose fans are most likely to barbecue:

Magazines Index*

Motorcyclist 155

Popular Hot Rodding 154

Ski 153

Hod Rod 150

Scientific America 148

TV Shows

Best of Martha Stewart 215

Rosie O'Donnell Show 185

Real TV 161

Cops 154

Home Improvement 151

*For example, readers of Motorcyclist are 55 percent more likely to BBQ. An index of 100 is the national average.

Source: Mediamark Research, Inc.

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