Friday, January 9, 2009

Ramblings: Kingsford Competition Briquets

Kingsford has released a new brand of charcoal briquette that’s designed for the competitor and those that would like to cook like a competitor. Why does this matter? The vast majority of serious BBQ cooks do not use the most popular brand of charcoal on the market. Why is this and what does it mean for the everyday backyard griller?

In a poll of competition cooks (including numerous state champions), the most popular charcoal brands for their purposes are Wicked Good, Rancher and Royal Oak. Kingsford was listed, but didn’t even approach the popularity of the others. Think that’s odd? rates charcoal and Kingsford is rated 61st by their readers. Take a moment to let that settle in. Kingsford is ranked 61st by grilling aficionados.

It seems that Kingsford’s current product doesn’t achieve the heat, sustainability, and taste profile that competitors are looking for. Competitors use what garners them the best results with judges. The judging at most competitions is blind. Those who are responsible for adjudication have no idea if you are using lump or not, national or local brands or even if you are using charcoal at all. If this is an accurate barometer of the quality of charcoal, backyard grillers have been getting shortchanged in the fuel department.

To rectify this, the makers of Kingsford have taken steps to ensure that they provide a product that is designed to meet the needs of today’s competitors with the introduction of Kingsford Competition Briquets (sic). These new briquettes should be available to the home consumer by April 1st, just in time for the start of grilling weather. The goal seems to be to match ease of use with quality of cooking.

Touted by Kingsford for its ability to foster high heat while maintaining that heat for longer periods of time, these new briquettes should be able to go from lighting to cooking in under 15 minutes. I will be doing some experimentation over the next few weeks comparing Wicked Good to Kingsford Competition Briquets. I’ll be using the same volume of charcoal, the same lighting method, the same food and the same grill.

I’m excited to see that an industry leader is interested in bridging the gap between the average (albeit commercially successful) and the competition worthy. I hope that our tests show that Kingsford has a product that the competitive cook will use as often as the backyard cook.

Over the next few weeks you will find information about Kingsford Competition Briquets, recipes from Chris Lilly (Kingsford’s Pitmaster) and our test results. Check back often!


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