I’ve been a Kingsford charcoal guy since first learning to grill more than 40 years ago from Walt Scheela, my wife’s grandfather. Walt used Kingsford and literally counted the briquets as he added them to his Weber kettle each hour when he cooked the Thanksgiving turkey.
Over the years I’ve tried other brands, even some lump charcoal. But I always come back to Kingsford Original. I use it with my Weber machines at home, including a 22.5 Smokey Mountain. I’ve also used Kingsford for big cooks for large groups on homemade cement-block pits. We arranged whole bags along the bottom of the pit, slit the bags, poured on a little lighter fluid and tossed a few matches. Fun.
So when Weber came out with its own brand of charcoal earlier this year, I was curious. I asked the company for a bag to test and it obliged.
Even before using, I was impressed. The waterproof, resealable bag is nice, though I had to work at first to get the bag resealed. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten a bag of Kingsford in the rain. That can get messy.
The Weber charcoal started nicely, in a chimney, and burned well as I opened or closed vents to control the temperature.
On the maiden voyage with the new charcoal, I cooked 10 pounds of chicken wings in two batches over a period of nearly three hours at a neighborhood party. The set up was two-zone, charcoal under half the grate and no charcoal under the other half. The wings spent most of their time off direct heat and then were crisped over the coals.
I’ve been using, and modifying slightly, the same chicken wing recipe for decades, since learning it from Bill Scheela, one of Walt’s sons. It’s simple and tasty. You’ll find it below.
At the neighborhood party, I used just one chimney full of fresh Weber charcoal, added to some leftover briquets from a previous cook. The Weber charcoal seems to burn much longer than Kingsford Original.
Kingsford also offers a long-burning — 25 percent longer, the company says — briquet. I haven’t used it yet, but there is an excellent comparison of the new Weber charcoal against several kinds of Kingsford — including long-burning — on The Virtual Weber Bullet site.
The Weber charcoal is more expensive, about a buck a pound for a 20-pound bag at Lowe’s and Walmart. That could be a competitive issue. Many Kingsford users time their purchases to special sales and then load up. It’s a point of pride.
One difference: Spelling. Weber sells briquettes. Kingsford sells briquets. As I lined them up for a size comparison, the briquettes were larger than the briquets.
I did have one question. The new charcoal bag has a recycle symbol but no number. Usually there are numbers (1 through 7) for plastic. Can I put the bag through our main recycling stream here in Austin, Texas? I'm still trying to get an answer.
UPDATE: According to a Weber spokeswoman, the charcoal bag is a plastic lamination composed of recyclable materials #1 and #4. So, yes, it can go into the main recycling stream in ATX.
Gary’s Chicken Wing recipe, stolen from Bill
Turn and sprinkle the wings with each of the ingredients several times during the cook. Note: Bill Scheela used lemon pepper seasoning, not onion powder.