Summer hasn't really begun until you've had a good barbeque.

Over 85 million households own an outdoor grill and a Google search for 'BBQ' turns up more than 53 million hits. With numbers like the smell of charcoal isn't all that's in the ai it also smells like a good investment opportunity.

Ever wonder how the Weber kettle came into being? Why we have hundreds of sauce choices at the grocery store? Who thought to build a barbeque smoker the size of a semi trailer? A few of those backyard enthusiasts took their passion for grilling to the next level and built their companies into household names.

Making a Better Grill

George Stephen, Sr. loved to cook outdoors at his home in Mount Prospect, Illinois. Frustrated with the uneven cooking and difficulty in controlling the flame, he decided to build a better grill. He worked at the Weber Brothers Metal Works, a Chicago sheet metal shop that mostly made buoys for Lake Michigan. By cutting a buoy in half, he fashioned a dome shaped grill with lid -- and the classic Weber Grill was born.

Once word spread about how well the unwieldy contraption cooked, sales hit the roof. In the 1950s, the average open brazier sold for $70. The Weber grill was priced at just under $50. The success of the Weber grill enabled George to buy out the Weber Brothers Company and he eventually changed the name to Weber-Stephens Products Co.

George passed away in 1993. The company is still in the family and George Stephens, Jr. now serves as CEO. The Weber story is the perfect example of the classic American dream coming true.

World's Largest Grill

Designed by Trace Arnold, the Ultimate Smoker and Grill – the world's largest -- is a 55-foot long grill and smoker built on a semi-trailer. The wood fired grill can cook 200 steaks or 1,000 hotdogs. Or it can smoke 2,000 pounds of meat. It comes with a 48' flat screen, satellite hookup and a Bose Entertainment System.

The Ultimate Smoker and Grill has hosted grilling parties from Wall Street to The University of Texas, and even held the world's largest tail gate party at Super Bowl XXXVIII. Many companies book the Ultimate Smoker and Grill for corporate events.

The trailer had to be redesigned to accommodate its unexpected popularity. It now includes new sliding rails to provide larger sponsorship areas and new, larger flagpoles double the space available for top sponsorship levels.

It’s the Secret Recipe

What about the secret sauce? Many fans of BBQ have a fierce loyalty to one specific sauce. Whether you're partial to Kansas City, Memphis, Texas or North Carolina-style barbeque, each sauce has a unique recipe and a unique story.

C.B Stubblefield, known as Stubbs, grew up in Navasota, Texas on the Brazos River. Inheriting his love of cooking from his father, Stubbs perfected a sweet, tomato-based sauce with a hint of tangy spice. To build the anticipation of his hungry fans, he never rushed a meal.

Stubb's first restaurant in Lubbock played to his love of live music, welcoming Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Linda Ronstadt and George Thorogood to the stage. Grammy winner Tom T. Hall even wrote a song about Stubb’s Bar-B-Que, 'The Great East Broadway Onion Championship of 1978.'

Stubb’s moved his restaurant to Austin in the early 1990s, where it is one of the city's most famous music venues. Stubb's sauces, rub and BBQ products are sold around the country. Not bad for someone who grew up picking cotton.

The Bottom Line

It's time to enjoy the outdoor cooking season. Whether you have an idea for a better grill or a recipe for a secret sauce, the market is wide open to entrepreneurs. No large public companies dominate the business, so if you think you have the right idea, perhaps you ai be the next one to change the industry and make a fortune.

Next time you are at your tailgate party, stop to think what you could change to start a new business. In any case, enjoy your time in the sun with family and friends, and keep working on that perfect sauce.