How Do You Sell the Qwik Cook Grill Newspaper-Burning Barbecue? Lots of T&A!

The late 80s and early 90s were the Golden Age of the Infomercial, a magical time when any dork with a camcorder and a half-baked idea could get rich. A superb example of what was on the air back then is the Safari Qwik-Cook Grill infomercial, which sold a portable barbecue that burned newspaper instead of charcoal. This infomercial has lots of what made that era such a delight—hackneyed stock music, bad acting, and copious amounts of T&A:

Anyone who ever lived during the 1980s probably recognizes the stock music that opens the Qwik Cook Grill infomercial. This peppy, synthesized, banal tune was used on countless cheesy commercials, corporate training videos, and local television programs on chintzy UHF stations. (If anyone knows of any video online that also features this once-ubiquitous tune, please let us know in the comments.)

But you don’t need to remember the 80s to notice that this video sure does like using T&A. This Qwik Cook Grill infomercial rivals only Tom Vu in its blatant and gratuitous use of female flesh. The popularity of barbecuing at the beach and during the summer presumably provided justification for 80% of the women to be clad only in swimwear. The real reason, of course, was to get channel-surfing horndogs looking for the latest Poison video on MTV to stop and stare at the nearly-bare ladies long enough to hear the pitch for the grill.

Only after half-a-minute of looking at bikini babes on the beach do we actually get to see the grill in use during the “The Great Cookout Challenge,” which is supposed to show that even a muscular physique and Tom Selleck looks aren’t going to help you with the ladies if you are still using a slow, old-fashioned charcoal grill. Otherwise this scene is notable for being the only one in which women are allowed to appear fully clothed.

More memorable is host Tony Bessie teaching a blonde, a brunette, a redhead, and some guy named Mike how to use the Qwik Cook Grill. When we first see them they are all standing in or around a cheap plastic kiddie pool. Suddenly all of them—except Tony—start scooping up water and pouring it on their bodies before heading off. The existence of this “pool” provides an excuse for the women to wear swimsuits the whole time.

The whole situation seems vaguely like a mind control cult, not least because Tony’s manner is reminiscent of Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master.

The only one of these ladies we get the name of is Cheryl, the blonde in the white bikini. Cheryl seems to be Tony’s bottom girl, while Mike is clearly the Tex Watson of his group. Notice how incredibly excited they all get when Tony turns the flipper; hard to know if they are overacting or if it’s just the most exciting thing they’ve seen in the last 5 minutes and 30 seconds of standing around half nude.

They again show a great deal of enthusiasm when the burgers are served, possibly because Tony made them all starve for the previous 72 hours to ensure a genuinely fervent reaction.

That’s where this video ends, which is a shame because there was clearly more to the infomercial. Many comments on the Web indicate that later versions of the Qwik Cook Grill ad were hosted by former football player and sometime actor Dick Butkus, but sadly no video of this is available online.

A newspaper-flame-broiled thank you to reader Paul Smith for letting us know about the Qwik-Cook Grill infomercial.


  • 13 Responses to “How Do You Sell the Qwik Cook Grill Newspaper-Burning Barbecue? Lots of T&A!”

  • I vaguely remember the Qwick Cook Grill and the Dick Butkus infomercial. I think it took place in a stadium parking lot.

    Comment by euGene on May 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm

  • Why does everyone from the 80s seem so terribly unattractive now? At the time, they didn’t, but now…

    In 20 years am I going to think everyone from the 00s was ugly?

    Comment by Ryan on June 8, 2013 at 9:00 am

  • I would love to buy one.

    Comment by Carol Beck on May 29, 2014 at 11:48 pm

  • I have one.

    Comment by Michele Brown on June 27, 2015 at 3:42 pm

  • Okay, I am at work and started watching this infomercial. I had to stop for fear of getting fired! What in the world are they selling besided T&A?

    Comment by bob on November 5, 2015 at 9:35 am

  • Man…I SO remember the Dick Butkus infomercial for the Qwik Cook Grill! I remember one being on the beach too. My mom was suckered into buying one of these, and let me tell you, it was a complete flop! Returned it the next day!

    Comment by Scott on March 10, 2016 at 8:56 am

  • I absolutely love this grill. I purchased it early 1990’s. When divorced, husband took it to spite me. It’easy for me to use. It’s light weight to carry anywhere, it take nothing to light it, and it does a great job cooking food thoroughly thru.
    I would love to buy it again but have NO IDEA of where to purchase it again. Can you tell me where this is available?

    Comment by Linda Statler on August 30, 2016 at 9:40 pm

  • I think that is the neatest Grill ever and I used to have one till it got stolen I hope there’s a way for me to get one

    Comment by Michael Green on January 1, 2017 at 8:44 pm

  • The Dick Butkus commercials were classic. “With real wood fired taste! Because what is paper made out of? Wood!”

    Comment by Jody on June 12, 2017 at 7:17 pm

  • We just got one like this only square, new & unused in the carrying box, but the cookbook is missing, for a dollar at a rummage sale. I saw a few for sale on eBay while I was looking for a copy of the missing cookbook.

    Comment by Dawn Christensen on July 24, 2017 at 3:08 pm

  • I’ve been desperately trying to find the Dick Butkus on the beach ad for this grill. He pretends to surf with the board on the sand and says,”They like this move, don’t they?” I need to see it again!

    Comment by Chris Roy on November 28, 2018 at 2:00 am

  • I still have my Kwik Cook grill and have used it many times while remote camping
    and boondocking. Those who say it’s a flop don’t know how to use it. I have cook burgers, chicken, pork chops and other things on it. I love it!

    Comment by George on May 16, 2019 at 5:47 am

  • Just found one at Goodwill for 4 bucks. In original box with Dick Butkus’ picture on front of box.

    Comment by Sonia Sanchez on July 5, 2019 at 11:17 am