Kamado History

Ancient Cooking in Ceramics

From the beginning of time humans used clay vessels to cook their food. Archeologists have found clay cooking pots in every part of the world, and you should note that some of these cooking pots are similar in shape to our Kamado. There was, and still is, magic associated with cooking in ceramics.

As cultures and people throughout the world cooked and prepared their staple foods and favorite dishes in ceramics, so did the Japanese. The Japanese had a remarkable device that cooked rice which „looked and tasted different and better.“ This cooker, the Mushikamado, was used to steam rice for ceremonial family functions and was not used for barbecuing meat, fish, or anything else.

The Mushikamado was made entirely of clay found in Southern Japan , and its shape was, like many cooking vessels around the world, very similar to today’s „Kamado.“ The Mushikamado was round and domed with a lid that lifted off the base, and it included a damper and draft door. Inside the Mushikamado, a rice pot with a wooden lid was suspended over the „firebox“ by a „fire ring.“ The fuel used to generate heat to steam the rice was wood charcoal.
The Mushikamado becomes the Kamado

Richard Johnson designed and patented the Mushikamado into a ceramic barbecue in 1960’s while he was an airline pilot flying to Japan . Richard arbitrarily chose to call his new barbecue a Kamado, a word that had no stand alone or descriptive meaning in Japan before 1960. „Kamado“ was trade marked by Richard, and over the years the name became (and in some cases used without authority) synonymous with a ceramic barbecue

Richard opened a factory in Southern Japan where the Kamado was made with a grill, hinged bands, sliding draft door, and other minor but important improvements. Thousands of the earlier Kamados were sold (for $12.00 or less) to U.S. Air Force crewmembers who brought them back in empty military transport planes. Initially, crates were not capable of shipping the fragile Kamado, but after the crate problem was solved and with the advent of container shipping, over 100,000 of the Japanese Kamados were imported.

Kamados were sold and demonstrated in every major department store in the U.S. including: Rich’s in Atlanta , Bullocks, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, J.W.Robinsons, and Breuners. Kamados were featured in Sunset, Playboy, and Esquire magazines and in endless press releases. Many of the early purchasers are still using their Kamados, and all love the way they cook. These old Kamados have lived up to Richard Johnson’s original promise that the Kamado, „is the best barbecue in the world.“

The American made Kamado

In the latter part of 1960’s, Richard manufactured ceramic Kamados in the United States . These Kamados were made of high fire ceramics and had a high gloss ceramic glaze. The formula used was similar to „Corning Ware.“ The U.S. made Kamado corrected two major problems with the Japanese made Kamado. One, it did not crack with heat and weather and two, it was glazed to retain color instead of being painted.

A major component of the U.S. made Kamado was a ceramic mineral that contracted with heat, allowing for a zero coefficient of expansion. The mineral came from Rhodesia ; however, in the early 1970’s the U.S. put an embargo on all imports from Rhodesia . Efforts to find a substitute formula failed, and production of the Kamado was discontinued.

Today’s Kamado

In October of 1996, the Kamado Company introduced an entirely new ceramic tiled Kamado. The original Kamado patent holder, Richard Johnson, performed research and development for this new product in California . Today’s Kamado incorporates all of the outstanding features of ceramic cooking found in earlier Kamados, along with many new engineering and aesthetic improvements. We hope that you agree today’s Kamado is a beautiful, lifetime-functional product that will make a very special addition to your home.