For some Americans, July 4 doesn't start until a grill is fired up, followed by hot dogs, hamburgers -- or maybe kabobs -- served with sides of french fries and watermelon. So how did we land on these particular foods?
We can trace many of these patriotic eats to native crops in the Americas and European colonization, according to Bruce Smith and Melinda Zeder, archaeologists at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
Beef Arrives via Europe
Spanish explorers brought domesticated livestock to the New World, followed by colonists from Europe. How that led to meat on the grill is a bit harder to place.
According to Time's history of grilling, the Spanish explorers noticed the cooking method of native Carribean people, roasting meat slowly over a wood platform. The Spanish used the word barbacoa to describe the tasty process.