Who Invented Charcoal Briquettes?

by Paula Pennell ; Updated September 28, 2017

Charcoal has been used as fuel for more than 5,000 years, but it wasn’t until 1897 that Ellsworth B.A. Zwoyer of Reading, Pennsylvania, invented the charcoal briquette as we know it today.


After receiving a patent for his briquettes, Zwoyer founded the Zwoyer Fuel Company, which manufactured and sold the popular briquettes across the country.

Famous Ties

Henry Ford and his friend, Thomas Edison, are still wrongly credited with inventing the charcoal briquette. It wasn’t until around 1920 that Ford developed a new type of briquette from sawdust and wood from his automobile factory. Ford subsequently sold his invention to E.G. Kingsford.


Charcoal briquettes are hot-burning, smokeless and provide a consistent heat for long periods.

Fun Fact

In 1997, more than 880,000 tons of charcoal briquettes were sold in the U.S., according to the Barbecue Industry Association. The most popular holidays for barbecuing are Memorial Day, July Fourth and Labor Day.


Indoor grilling with charcoal is very dangerous. It produces high levels of carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.

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About the Author

Paula Pennell is a former newspaper publisher, editor and reporter, whose work has appeared in community newspapers and newsletters in Georgia, Florida, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. She attended Truett-McConnell College in Georgia, where she majored in English literature before landing her first newspaper job more than 16 years ago.