Grilled Chicken from 1776 to 1956

From 1776 to 1956

Revolutionary War Grilled Chicken

Revolutionary War Re Enactment. Photo by Lee Wright

While looking for American Revolution pictures, I found this one of re-enactment soldier frying chicken over a campfire.  It reminded me that one of my family’s all-time favorite recipes–for marinated grilled chicken– has become a vintage recipe, even though I did not inherit it from a long-ago ancestor.

Source of grilled chicken recipe

Big Boy Barbeque Book 1956 cookbook

Recipe for grilled chicken from this book.

Big Boy Barbecue Book (1956)

My recipe for Marinated Grilled Chicken comes straight from a spiral-bound cookbook that I got when we purchased our first charcoal grill in the 1960s.  The book, published in 1956, Big Boy Barbecue Book, touts the Big Boy brand of barbecues and Kingsford Charcoal.

Don’t you love the back cover picture of a typical American family? And of course DAD is the one grilling, because as the blurbs touting the advantages of backyard barbecues says:

“Husbands become the experts and do the barbecuing.  Wives take it easy.  All they have to do is make the salad and dessert.  The kitchen stays clean.  The house remains neat. There is almost no washup afterwards.”

In fact a cartoon shows the history of cooking from caveman to modern man grilling.

History of cooking

History of Cooking, a Collier magazine cartoon printed in the Big Boy Barbecue Book

Grilled chicken marinade ingredients

Grilled chicken marinade ingredients

I like this recipe for grilled chicken so much that I still make it according to the directions in the Big Boy Barbecue Book (original price tag $1.00).  I may sometimes use cider vinegar instead of wine vinegar, and fresh parsley instead of dried, and I definitely don’t follow their suggestion to reuse the marinade (see note.)

You can tell by the condition of the recipe’s page in the cookbook, that I have used it (and dripped soy sauce on it) frequently.

Grilled Chicken Marinade recipe

Big Boy Barbecue Book, Marinade Recipe

Marinated Grilled Chicken

Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
From book Big Boy Barbecue Book, spiral bound (1956)


  • 1 1/2 cup salad oil
  • 3/4 cups soy sauce (I use low sodium)
  • 1/4 cup Worchestershire Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper (freshly ground)
  • 1/2 cup wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed ((Optional))
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice


Making Marinade
1. In 9 x 13 pyrex pan, mix all marinade ingredients, [being sure to break up clumps of dry mustard].
Marinating chicken
2. Place chicken breasts in marinade. Place pan in refrigerator.
Marinating chicken
3. After an hour, turn breasts over. [Can leave to soak, turning occasionally for 2-6 hours.]
Grilling chicken
4. Drain each breast, place on hot grill fire for 10-15 minutes per side, depending on size of breast.


The Big Boy book says "Marinade can be drained from steaks or chops for a second use", however I would not recommend doing that. Our knowledge of cross-contamination of meats is more developed than it was when this recipe booklet was printed. Especially DO NOT use marinade that has been used for one kind of meat for a different kind.
You can, however store the marinade before use in the refrigerator for a week, or freeze it for several months.

This vintage cookbook, like so many of my sources for recipes when I was a young bride, came from an industrial test kitchen.  Here’s the credit page.

Title page of Big Boy Barbecue Book (1956)

Title page of Big Boy Barbecue Book (1956)

Do you have a favorite recipe from a vintage product-oriented cookbook?

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5 thoughts on “Grilled Chicken from 1776 to 1956

  1. Kerry Dexter

    though I’ve done it enough over the years that I no longer follow a set recipe ( which is actually one of the outcomes he suggests in the book, if I recall correctly), I have to credit Edward Espe Brown’s Tassajara Bread Book, first published, I think, in late 1960s or early 1970s, for giving me the inspiration and courage to make bread, and all sorts of other pastry and flour things too.

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Kerry: I have a kind of numerical dyslexia, so feel I should always check a recipe (or 2 or 3) for quantities and temperatures. That doesn’t mean I follow them exactly when it comes to ingredients. Particularly with baking, I need to recheck things, because baking is more exacting than general cooking. I will admit though, with this marinade–I stick to the formula, because it has drawn so many oohs and aaahs.

  2. Linda

    I am searching for an old recipe that may have been in the BigBoy cookbook. I have lost my book along the way. Yau make sort of a “mustard plaster” from Coleman dry mustard and I think salt and cornstarch. You then completely encase a boneless steak in the mixture, let it set to dry and place it directly on the charcoal to cook. Is this recipe in your book? Thanks.

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      So sorry to report that there is no mustard rub recipe in my edition of the Big Boy cookbook. A search on the Internet found lots of dry mustard rubs–most also featuring ground peppercorns and other herbs an spices.


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