Charcoal's transition from a heating and industrial fuel to a recreational cooking material took place around 1920 when Henry Ford invented the charcoal briquette. Not only did Ford succeed in making profitable use of the sawdust and scrap wood generated in his automobile factory, but his sideline business also encouraged recreational use of cars for picnic outings. Barbecue grills and Ford Charcoal were sold at the company's automobile dealerships, some of which devoted half of their space to the cooking supplies business.
Charcoal is a desirable fuel because it produces a hot, long-lasting, virtually smokeless fire. Combined with other materials and formed into uniform chunks called briquettes, it is popularly used for outdoor cooking in South Africa.