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Backyard barbecue, 1953.
VIEW GALLERY | 15 PHOTOS
Backyard barbecue, 1953.Gordon Parks—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Backyard barbecue, 1953.
One of only thirteen American women — known as the Mercury 13 — to participate in NASA's Mercury space program, Jerrie Cobb (left) barbecues in 1959.
Jerrie Cobb keeps watch over the grill, 1959.
Beach barbecue, Massachusetts, 1953.
Fraternity picnic and barbecue, UCLA, 1940s.
Vermont barbecue, 1957.
Vermont barbecue, 1957.
John D. Lodge (in the suit), the governor of Connecticut from 1951-55, surveys the scene at a salmon barbecue in 1953.
A gathering of well-dressed guests at a barbecue in Fairfield County, Conn., 1949.
Backyard barbecue, 1953.
Gordon Parks—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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LIFE Fires Up the Barbecue

Aug 31, 2012

If there's one consolation during the scorching, often unbearably humid days of summer, it's the prospect of being outdoors with friends and family, swapping stories and enjoying a cold beverage as a huge variety of food cooks on a nearby grill, filling the air with the mouthwatering aroma of a good old-fashioned barbecue.

Here, on Fourth of July weekend, LIFE.com offers up a selection of photographs celebrating one of the season's time-honored traditions: the picnic and barbecue, or barbeque, or BBQ. However you spell it, it still translates as "delicious."

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

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