It’s the time of year for making memories – and hot dogs, too.

Most of my favorite memories are from the outdoors, around the grill. One that sticks out is a family reunion in Westford, Massachusetts when I was a kid. I remember the not one – not two – but three hot dogs I ate. I also remember running around the yard with my cousins, though I can’t remember exactly what game we were playing. Maybe it was Tag? Or Capture the Flag? 
I still enjoy a good hot dog or three, especially Ball Park’s all-beef hot dogs. Even so, family barbecues are different now than they were back then – and not just because I’m operating the grill instead of running around. We’re also eating different foods. My family wants variety – from chicken breast to smoked sausage to filets (rare for me and medium for my wife and kids) and some tasty vegetables, like corn and summer squash.

As the largest U.S. food company, our team has the unique opportunity to give other families the variety they want, too – and we’re doing that through our brands and our customers’ brands alike. Whether we’re removing antibiotics from the supply chain for our Tyson brand, removing added nitrates and artificial colors from our Ball Park PRIME hot dogs or cooking up new flavors of Hillshire smoked sausage, we’re evolving alongside consumers as we strive to sustainably feed the world. 

That said, you know as well as I do that how you grill your food is just as important as what you’re grilling. I can’t profess to be the best grill master – but growing up, I did work in the kitchen of one of my hometown restaurants. Here are a few tips I learned that continue to serve me well today:

Hot, Hot, Hot. Let the grill heat up to full temperature. Then back one side of the grill down to medium temperature. A “searing station” is a great feature in a lot of grills today that serves the same purpose. As you know, different-sized proteins will cook at different speeds.

Learn your grill and what methods give you the taste you want so you don’t have to constantly open the cover. Personally, I like to sear my steaks to lock in the juices – and to grill my chicken on the top rack for the final five minutes. Ideally, you should only open the cover of the grill to flip your food. That’ll help you maintain as much of the smoky flavor as possible. 

Judge the temperature of your meat by feeling how firm it is. There’s no need to cut into your guests’ steaks to see if they’re done. Instead, use your hand as a benchmark. A rare filet should feel like the spot between your thumb and forefinger on the back side of your hand. A medium steak should feel like the base of your thumb before that first large crease in your palm, and a well-done steak should feel the spot just under the base of your fingers, also on the palm of your hand.
Here’s hoping this summer is a memorable one for you and your families – no matter what you’re grilling or what games you’re playing! 

President and Chief Executive Officer at