President and First Lady Obama gifted UK Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron a one-of-a-kind Braten 1000 Series Grill hand made by Engelbrecht Grills and Cookers of Paxton, Ill.
The grill normally retails for $1,895, but this one cost significantly more not only because it was a nicer version, but because the White House insisted that every part of the grill be American-made. (An administration official says that the company donated the grill.)
Kyle Bloomstrand, vice president of Engelbrecht Grills and Cookers, tells ABC News that the body of the grill is the same one as is always for sale, but that since normally some of the parts in their upscale grill are made in other countries, that had to change for this official White House gift. Everything in this custom-made grill was “Made in America,” which required some parts – the wheels, for instance – to be custom-made.
The grill also has some fancy flourishes – brass hooks on the side, a brass utility tray engraved with an “American and British friendship flags” inlay and a presidential plaque mounted on the exterior lid, explaining that the grill was a gift from President and First Lady Obama to the Prime Minister and his wife.
All those additions and changes significantly increased the price of the grill, Bloomstrand said. The company could make a similarly “Made in America” grill for any customer, though it would take a little longer “and there’s a price tag that goes with it,” he said.
The White House said the grill was given as a symbol of the personal friendship between the Obamas and the Camerons and it “commemorates their May 2011 visit to 10 Downing Street where together they grilled and served food to American and British Armed Service Members.”
“Engelbrecht Grills and Cookers has been praised for its environmentally friendly practices,” the White House says, noting that the gift also included “two White House chef jackets each featuring American and British flags, and the Great Seal. Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron’s names are embroidered onto the front of their individual jacket.”
First Lady Obama also gave Samantha Cameron an “original crystal honey vase with honey collected from the South Lawn of the White House hand-etched with the words ‘White House Honey’ onto the front side of the vase. Chamomile seeds harvested from the White House kitchen garden and a custom candle inspired by the White House were also presented. Each of Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron’s children received personalized American made bean bag chairs, each featuring the Presidential Seal and the child’s name embroidered.”
Cameron gave the Obamas a ping-pong table, in honor of their 2011 match with some British university students.
Previous gifts from President Obama to our friends across the Pond were criticized for various reasons. A video iPod he gave Her Majesty the Queen in 2009 included audio of then-state senator Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and audio of President Obama’s Inauguration Address, which some judged a tad egocentric. (Though the Royal couple gave the Obamas “a silver-framed, signed photograph of themselves.”)
Another 2009 gift to then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown e Brown of a box set of 25 DVDs of great American movies as picked by the American Film Institute was assailed by the Daily Mail says as “about as exciting as a pair of socks.”