Chilebrown at home

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


‘Kingsford Competition’ charcoal briquets are a new companion product to the 'Kingsford Original', ‘Blue bag’ “K” charcoal. It is not really a new product. It has been out for over a year but this is the first time I have seen it offered in the Bay Area. We picked up a couple of bags at our local warehouse store. We are going to conduct an unscientific comparison of ‘Kingsford Competition’ v ‘Kingsford Original’. We will have a burn test to see how fast, hot and long they will burn. Next weekend we will conduct a taste test. Does one burn faster or hotter? Will we notice a difference in flavor? This should be interesting.

What is so different about the ‘Competition’ charcoal? The regular briquettes have had the same profile since 2006. This was supposed to be an improvement from the old Kingsford charcoal. These new charcoal had grooves stamped on the surface to improve air flow for lighting and burning. This year the regular briquettes have been changed slightly again. The grooves are deeper and longer. The ‘Competition’ briquettes are not supposed to replace the regular but are meant to be a companion. What does that mean? What is so different about the Competition? This is what ‘Kingsford has released about the ‘Competition’

• "...high heat that's ready to cook on fast for grilling, searing or slow cooking."
• "Lasts The Same As A 15 lb Kingsford Original Bag"
• "...Kingsford's latest innovation."
• "These new briquets offer a unique combination of the high heat associated with lump charcoal and the consistent burn of briquets..."
• "100% All Natural"
• "High Heat"
• "Ready to Cook on Fast"
• "Kingsford Competition Briquets do burn hotter than Kingsford Original charcoal."
• "The Competition Briquets will be ready to cook on faster, so be ready to place your food on a little earlier than with Kingsford Original."

We weighed 8 briquettes of both brands. The Competition weighed out at 6 ounces. The Original was 2 ounces heavier at 8 ounces. The Competition briquettes were smooth and consistently shaped. The Original was rough and some briquettes were missing little chunks of material. The next step in our observation would be ignition of these 16 pillows of charcoal. We decided to soak a paper towel in lighter fluid and place at the bottom of the briquette stack. The only problem is I do not use lighter fluid. Luckily my neighbor loaned me some of his mesquite flavored lighter fluid. Every 15 minutes, I would point a laser thermometer at the middle of the stack and take a reading. Let’s step into the Ring of Fire, the Ring of Fire.


800 degrees, 00:15 minutes, 512 degrees
910 degrees, 00 :30 minutes, 850 degrees
880 degrees, 00 :45 minutes, 820 degrees
690 degrees, 1:00 minutes, 780 degrees
606 degrees, 1:15 minutes, 650 degrees
510 degrees, 1:30 minutes, 550 degrees
400 degrees, 1:45 minutes, 500 degrees

Fifteen minutes passed and the Competition had a nice layer of ash and was already at 800 degrees while the Original was still igniting and only registered 512 degrees. The Regular caught up in the next 15 minutes. It then held and beat the competition for heat and longevity. One hour and forty five minutes I stopped taking measurements. The Competition looked pretty spent but was still putting off some heat. The Original looked like it had a way to go.

The Competition charcoal was ready to cook faster and had an initial higher heat. This might be good if you need to cook a steak fast. There are so many other questions that need to be answered. Do these charcoals give a different flavor to your protein? We will examine that in the next post. Will the competition charcoal give a consistent heat in a controlled air environment? (smoker or any cooker with air control). How about using them with a Dutch Oven? This weekend we will try to answer some of these questions. We are looking forward to the taste test. See y'all later!


Kailyn said...

I can't wait for your post about taste. I am a sworn Kingsford original kind of girl. But yeah, I use lighter fluid -- very little now that I have discovered the cubes. I think they're made from parafin. And gosh, how different things would have been if two plus years sgo I had gotten the job at the barbecue accessory compny instead of my current job.

Chilebrown said...

Wow, barbecue accessory store, do stey still have your resume? I may need your recipe this weekend for the barbeque sauce. Say hello to Borris.

Zoomie said...

Thank you for doing this important scientific research for us. We await the taste test eagerly.

Zio said...

I tried a couple of bags of the competition style and my own observations appear to be confirmed by your far more scientific method. For me the competition is useful for searing and not much else. I still prefer to use the old style. The standard briquette gives me more control over the fire and a more sublime smoke flavor, something I lost with the high heat-short cook time the competition style.

Chris said...

I've used the Comp a few times since they came out a year ago, but I really don't use a lot of briquettes to begin with. Only when I'm using my Brinkmann's grill and my son's SnP smoker.

I can't tell enough from using it to really discern a difference. I did notice that the bag they are marketing on your coast look different than over here. Odd.

Chilebrown said...

Zoomie, Unscientific! This is a science class that I can have a beer at.

Zio, Thanks for your observation's.
Were the competition priced higher than the Original? I have not seen the two bags together yet.

Chris, Same question about price. I prefer mesquite for grilling. Briquettes have an important purpose and I will discuss that later. How is that new custom grill treating you?