Day 18: 5 Simple Ways to Upgrade Your Product Demonstration Booth

Over the past three years it has been apparent to us that your presentation game must be on-point if you want to boost sales in local and regional grocery stores and specialty shops. As we’ve grown over that time, we’ve begun to see other local barbecue sauce companies take notice and follow our lead. Going from coolers and the ever so familiar off-white, light pink, and greige (gray-beige) crockpots with the little flowers on the side to mirror finish serving dishes shows just how important it is for barbecue sauce startups to stay relevant, appetizing, and approachable. Without anymore delay, here are five things you can do today to stay relevant in your local grocery stores and marketplaces.

 

5. Boast the Benefits, Don’t Baffle With Bullshit

Early on in our demonstrations at grocery stores there were two idealogies about how to best approach potential customers to try the product. As it turns out, most customers are smarter than the average bear and can smell bullshit a mile away. Who knew? You can boast and brag visually using trophies and/or banners without constantly reminding the customer how good you really think you are. No one likes a braggart and they especially don’t like one that initially approaches them with a loud and abrasive claim regardless of merit. Rather than asking the customer if they’ve heard about your recent accolades or publications, ask them if they’d like to try a free sample of the goods. That is what you’re there to do after all; sell your products.

 

Pro-tip: set up a table with a trophy or two (if you have them) but don’t focus on the trophies. Focus on the customer and the sample.

Let the products speak for themselves. No one’s ever heard of “Meatwave Magazine.”

 

4. Interact on a Personal Level.

So many of your customers will remember you and unfortunately you may not remember all of them. It’s a tough line to walk because you don’t want to offend anyone, but you have to interact on a personal level that engages. Talk with the customer as they’re trying the product. Ask them what they like or dislike most about your product while they’re tasting it. You’ll create a level of respect and integrity with them and it will help you create lasting bonds with your customers. It also serves well for feedback. Customers that are comfortable will be candidly honest with you.

Pro-tip: Check the contents of the customer’s cart. See some kind of meat? Offer the right product for it. Start a conversation and then offer a sample.

Thank you for coming by our demonstration today. Let us know how we did. If you are on Facebook, be sure to search for us and like our page. You can leave feedback there as well.

3. Conserve But Don’t Go Skimpy on Samples.

When’s the last time you ate a cracker with barbecue sauce on it and thought to yourself, “I really need to get a pack of saltines to go with this sauce. It is soooo good! I can’t wait to get home and drizzle this on some crunchy crackers!” I would venture a guess that you probably haven’t ever knocked down the grocery store door to get to some crackers when you’re thinking about barbecue. Your customers aren’t thinking that either. Serve them up some pulled pork cooked and served with your products. Get the taste in their mouth and the sale will follow.

Pro-tip: Use restaurant squeeze bottles with nozzles for accurate and conserved application of the sauces.

Save the crackers for a last ditch effort if you’ve run out of meat.

2. Vegans, Vegetarians, and Hipsters OH MY!

We never wish to alienate anyone during a demo, but as the old saying goes, you can’t please everyone. Now that being said, some folks are spending time and money on crackers, kale, jack fruit, and other substitutes for meat. We encourage all people to try our products and for the most part are fairly friendly to special dietary needs, but we never lose sight of our industry and that is barbecue; smoked, flavorful, and delicious meats with a sweet and tangy flavor profile. When you start chasing niche markets while losing sight of your bread and butter customers it becomes a slippery slope that can be hard to overcome. We welcome all people to use our products, but it is difficult for us to begin tracking all of the dietary needs and fads as they come and go. Expect pulled pork, sauce, and rub at our demos.

Pro-tip: Avoid confrontation with PETA and other activists by offering fruit as an alternative. If that doesn’t work, refer to the store manager for assistance.

A quick upgrade is to offer a fruit such as an apple slice instead of crackers. It is juicy and accents barbecue seasons and sauces quite well for those who won’t eat meat.

1. Presentation is 9/10 of The Law

No one wants to eat BBQ from your grandma’s crockpot and they especially don’t want to eat it from your tailgating cooler. While these are great for tailgating and making things portable, you’re here to make a first impression that lasts. We were guilty of using aluminum pans in coolers to keep the meat somewhat warm, but after you open the lid a few times the heat is gone and the condensation starts to dry out the meat.

 

The logical solution is to get a warm dish that will keep the meat moist, warm, and tender. So get a crockpot right? Well that can work, and it does in a pinch, but what if you’re outside or yards away from a power outlet? What if your crockpot looks like something that should be on “The Antiques Roadshow?” What if you have bright orange extension cords looking like a construction site? Are you sending the right visual message? Probably not. Ditch the crockpot for a professional chafing dish with portable fuel burners, some silver flatware, and while you’re at it, throw in a fitted table cloth with your logo on it. We’ve seen other demo booths follow in our footsteps to give a professional “you got your shit together” look with a simple fitted table cloth and some silver flatware.

Pro-tip: Chafing dishes are an expensive but necessary tool that will give your game some much appreciated next-level respect from customers. It will speak for itself. People can’t help but look into it like a mirror. If you’re serious about your groundgame in local grocery stores, you’ll buy a chafing dish right now and keep the crockpot in your kitchen.

Day 15: Five Things You Should Know About Charcoal

We’ve all had our experiments with wood, charcoal, and even gas when cooking outdoors, but did you know that charcoal was originally used for several other reasons including art, medicine, makeup, and metallurgy?

Image By DryPot – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12649706

Charcoal in Art

Charcoal has been used as a pigment for ages to represent the color black. From the earliest paintings and inscriptions to modern art, charcoal is a favorite among a long lineage of expressionists and artists alike. Furthermore, charcoal is microscopically absorbant and can be used as a pigment for dyes used to create black and grey fabrics.

Charcoal in Medicine

Charcoal is one of a few age old home remedies for dietary and digestive issues. For centuries people of the ancient world all the way to today have used charcoal to settle stomach aches and other digestive issues. It is so popular that charcoal is still used today in pill form to address and treat ailments.

 

Charcoal in Metallurgy

Charcoal is a fairly clean burning fuel when compared to wood and other organic rich fuel sources. That’s because charcoal has been through a process called pyrolysis, which is like fire anaerobics for trees. That means that wood or other vegetation like Bamboo, is heated to high temperatures with the absence of oxygen which consumes the organic matter and water and dries out the vegetation forming a charred black carbon substance we call charcoal. Since the wood has been burned once, the main byproduct, smoke, is cut in half leaving a combustible substance that puts out way less smoke. When you have less smoke, you can forge and weld metals with fewer impurities which allows for a better quality metal. Charcoal has fueled blacksmith forges from the early beginnings of the bronze, iron, and industrial ages throughout today.

Charcoal in Cosmetics

Like the dyes and paints mentioned before, charcoal can be ground into a microscopic powder pigment and used in a wide variety cosmetic products because it is absorbed very well by the skin and has staying power. Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s Royal Oak?

Charcoal in Cooking

Naturally charcoal is a fuel of choice for many barbecue enthusiasts, and it’s American as Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer… Yep that’s right, charcoal as we know it in the briquet form was invented by Zwoyer in 1897 in Pennsylvania. So 6 years before the Wright Brothers were jumping off of sand dunes with a giant kite, Zwoyer was getting a patent on charcoal, literally one of the most abundant and widely used fuels in the world, because he made it into nice consistent square briquets. And you thought Steve Jobs was a visionary. LOL. This guy reinvented reburning wood and patented it.

It doesn’t stop there though, Henry Ford got into the game and changed it FOREVER. Henry Ford needed a way to recycle and reuse wood byproducts and horsefeed used in his automobile factories so he took the charcoal briquet idea and ran with it. He began producing charcoal and selling it which founded a little company called Kingsford.

So what does all this have to do with Jim Quessenberry BBQ? Well for one you won’t be seeing us using any of Hank Hill’s propane and propane accessories, but furthermore, we prefer to cook most everything with charcoal for a smooth, longlasting, and well controlled fire. I prefer Kingsford, but Royal Oak will do in a pinch. I suppose that makes me a Ford man afterall.

 

Tell you what, why don’t you grab a bottle or two of the good stuff in our shop and share some of your charcoal grilling techniques with us. We’d love to hear your stories.

Day 10: Hickory Wood: All the Stats, Facts, and Data You’ll Ever Need to Know

Hello everyone. It’s time for a science and history lesson. First I would like to apologize for the late blog post. I am late by a whole day, but I am here to make that up to you along with a giveaway we’re doing and some other fun ideas. In memorium of my old man on his birthday, we’re out to celebrate with all of our friends and family right here on the website, but first we gotta get the fire started and there’s no better wood to smoke with than Hickory in my opinion.

The Pawchohiccora and the Carya

Hickory Trees are from the genus Carya which means “nut” in Ancient Greek. While I am not up to snuff on the whole of ancient mythologies, I can safely say that Hickory has had a long history of being used for a variety of useful tasks including many different recipes in the Powhatan tribes of Virginia before and during the founding of the British-American colonies. Those recipes used the nut of the Pawchohiccora (Hickory) Tree and included a broth and a pulp used to flavor beans, vegetables, and broths as well as to create flour for breads. The Hickory nut was common all the way until the 19th century for cakes, breads, and cookies.

Hickory Smoking

Several years ago my Dad knew what many legends of barbecue have said for generations, and that was the fact the God put the Hickory tree on Earth for a reason, and the reason was that he knew what we were going to do with it. He gave the Texans mesquite because the soil was too poor to grow Hickory. That’s how we’re going to be using Hickory for the purposes of today’s blog.

Hickory has been used for several hundreds of thousands of years for campfires and cooking all over the world. The distinct aroma and savory flavor it produces when used to smoke meat is something many would find difficult to beat in life. The flavor is not as sharp as Mesquite or other hardwoods, but is also not as fruitful or sweet as a fruitwood. Because many consider it a “Fire Elemental” wood, it goes hand in hand with preparing food as well as making tools forged from fire. Compared to “Air Elemental” woods suchs as pine, cedar, and other conifers, Hickory is suitable for a pleasant and slow burning fire. It is dense and very strong under stress. This causes an even and manageable heat for smoking. Hickory when burned produces a smoke that is relatively free of harsh oils and waxy residue. This allows for long cook times without fear of ruining your meat with an overpowered falvor or aroma.

When mixed with a light amount of fruitwood (Apple is a favorite) Hickory produces a salty-sweet smoke that is amazing for bacon, hams, and other white meats such as chicken and even turkey. My personal favorite is a batch of Apple-Hickory smoked bacon with a light glaze of Maple syrup. You can’t beat a candied bacon made from Nature’s gifts to mankind.

Hickory For Utensils

Hickory has qualities unmatched by many other types of wood when it comes to longevity, hardness, durability, and strength. Used as a handle in shovels, pick axes, and other told of labor, Hickory has enough tensile strength to dig or pry anything apart without breaking. Until recently, Hickory was the only wood used in baseball bats and has been phased out for Ash as of late. Many other culinary uses of Hickory include cutting boards, knife handles, wooden spoons, and rolling pins.

Hickory for Building and Woodworking

Hickory is a slow growing wood and has been used far less in the last several decades due to deforestation. It has been replaced by fast growing pines and other easily replaceable trees as a cost effective and somewhat better for the environment building material, but let me be the first to tell you that Hickory built furniture and reclaimed wood holds high value in my book of hobbyist woodworking. It is sturdy and is probably singlehandedly responsible for the old saying “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

Conclusion

Hickory is a wonderful wood for utility and smoking barbecue. It also just so happens to be the driving flavor behind our highly sought after steak rub. Before you go, take a look at Jim Quessenberry’s Steak Beautiful.

Day 9: National BBQ Month

Sample Plate of BBQ

Today starts one of my favorite months, the month of May. I love May because it is when the weather starts to warm up, and the BBQ grills start to come out. May is a month where the skies can be sunny and the temperature is neither too cold nor too hot. I say that, but I do live in Arkansas where the weather can change drastically on the day. I remember a few years back, in May, on the East side of the state, it was in the high 60s to low 70s, and in the West side of the state it was actually snowing. “Classic Arkansas”. But generally speaking, May is perfect for BBQing and has been consequently named National BBQ Month.

Classic Arkansas
Classic Arkansas

As for me the beginning of May brings back fond memories because 1.) It meant the school year was nearing it’s end, and summer was in grasp. 2.) My friend, Brad’s pool was about to open up. 3.) The Memphis in May BBQ Contest is about to happen. As kids, Lee and I used to ride around the streets of Cherry Valley, AR on our bicycles with the other kids from our neighborhood. We often times would end up at a friend’s house doing summer activities such as: swimming in a horse trough or creating a huge slip and slide using a water hose, a roll of foam rubber, and some baby oil or dish soap. But, the one day that I always looked forward to was Mother’s day, for the obvious reason… yes… I love my mother. Also, it just so happens to be the day that my friend Brad Benefield’s parent’s open their pool. That has remained a staple for summer time fun for me, even til this day. Brad and his wife Natausha often invite me, our friend Seth, and Seth’s wife Eli to come swim at his parent’s pool once it opens. What used to be just fun in the summer has become a tradition we refer to as Pool-B-Q. Brad’s mother Cindy grills up some burgers, hot links, hot dogs, and sometimes chicken. We typically slather ALL THE THINGS up in some Sauce Beautiful and completely disregard the don’t swim after you eat rule.

During the middle of the Month is when The Memphis in May BBQ Contest begins. This was my father’s favorite contest. He liked it for many reasons. One reason of course being it’s proximity to where we lived, only about 50 mins away, but dad was also fond of Memphis itself. Memphis is a cool town, with it’s strong roots in Blues, Rock, and BBQ. Dad loved music, food, and people, and what better venue than Memphis in May BBQ Festival to be around all of those things? I’m not certain if dad attended the first MIM contest, but I know that he did attend the second one in the late 70s, and all the competitors were under one tent in the Orpheum parking lot. A lot has changed since then. Dad competed there until the mid 90s, receiving a handful of trophies, but what proved to be more significant were the friends he had made in the competition BBQ scene. He made friends with many people who are big names in competition BBQ these days such as Ardie Davis, Carolyn Wells, the late Silky Sullivan, and the late Billy Bones to name a few. Like him, a lot of those friends were defining what we know today as American BBQ, and Competition BBQ.

Ardie Davis and I
Ardie Davis and I

 

What this May brings us besides fond memories, is opportunity. We plan to vend at a several events this year to grow our business, and I have a secret for you guys. We have another giveaway to announce in two days. Details to come… We chose May 3rd because it is dad’s birthday, and also the 2 year anniversary of taking www.jimquessenberry.com live. Keep the smokers rolling and beers flowing my friends.

Day 4: 55 Racks of Ribs for A Good Cause

 

Michael Quessenberry and the Northeast Arkansas Legal Support Professionals Raise nearly $1,400 for NEA families.

Michael Quessenberry and Amelia Harris worked together to cook and sell 55 racks of Jim Quessenberry’s Rub and Sauce Beautiful candied ribs in order to help the Northeast Arkansas Legal Support Professionals Group assist with their regular philanthropic events. The group aides with scholarships, donations, and other assistance alongside CASA and other family assistance groups throughout the Northeast Arkansas region.

Michael cooked all night on Wednesday April 25th and through the morning of April 26th in order to present the ribs to each of the donating members of the fundraiser. The ribs will be delivered at 5pm on April 26th.

The Arkansas Trav’ler Championship Tradition

The Arkansas Trav’ler BBQ Cooking team has historically provided catering services in official and some not so official capacities for over 35 years. When Jim started the competitive cooking team he had already been cooking and providing for those in need for several years. His big heart and bigger head paved the way for his sons, Lee and Michael, to carry on a tradition of giving back to the community.

For inquiries about how we can help your next fundraiser, give us a shout or email us at [email protected]

Day 3: Why We Love Smoked Pork (And You Should, Too!)

There are many delicious forms of barbecue, but our favorite is very obviously pork. There are a lot of good reasons for this and you will probably agree that they are all worthy of your attention.

Whole Hog

One of the most ambitious cooks you will ever try is the whole hog. It is a lesson in patience, skill, and technique that few have experienced, but it is worth every minute of experience. When you smoke a whole hog, you better set aside at least 2 days of going nowhere and staying on top of your assignment.

The whole hog is very rewarding and will feed dozens of people. The meat is very tender throughout the shoulders, ribs, and ham areas. When cooking a whole hog it is good to remember that you have time to get it done right. Always set aside 24 – 30 hours of time including prep and serving so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

The whole hog has a distinct and mouthwatering flavor that is unlike any portion of the hog that you might have otherwise cooked separately. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten a baby-back rib cut directly from the animal. It is absolutely the freshest, juiciest, and most flavorful way to eat baby-back ribs. Follow Michael’s instructions here for an experience that is like none other. Be sure to pick up a few bottles of sauce or rub beautiful to go with the hog.

As a child I remember seeing my first whole hog cook at a BBQ competition. To me it looked like something you would see a tribe cook on some island far away from Arkansas.

Michael Quessenberry
https://jimquessenberry.com/going-whole-hog/

Ribs

My favorite barbecue dish has to be baby-back ribs. Sure there are spare ribs and St. Louis style ribs, but my favorite are baby-back ribs hands down. Let’s break it down. Spare ribs are from the belly and are meatier, larger in size, and often times tougher than baby-back ribs which come from closer to the loin. Because of this, baby-back ribs are more tender and take less preparation and cooking to get a wonderful and flavorful entree. St. Louis ribs are basically just trimmed and squared spare ribs. They’re uniform in appearance and have less grissel on them, but don’t be fooled, they aren’t “back” ribs.

Some folks like “dry” ribs, which when done properly, I LOVE, and some folks like to get messy with saucy wet ribs. I like something a bit more in the middle. My ribs tend to have the chew of a dry rib with a glazy candy shell similar to my shoulders or butts. Using Rub Beautiful and Sauce Beautiful as a glaze, the ribs come off the smoker with a very thick and satisfying bark that will leave you wanting more even if you’re full.

For more information on how I prepare ribs, see Lock and Load Ribs.

Pulled Pork

Ah the classic pulled pork sandwich, an American staple. Although the best sandwiches are often a mix of pulled pork from a whole hog, the traditional pulled pork sandwich is made from the shoulder, butt, or picnic ham portion of the hog cooked on its own, pulled and/or chopped, and placed between two buns with a dollop of homemade coleslaw topped with a squirt of Sauce Beautiful to complete the perfect BBQ sandwich.

 

When cooking a butt or shoulder, I generally season and coat the meat with a very liberal amount of Rub Beautiful and place the meat with the fat side down (to prevent bitterness and greasy meat) on the grate with an indirect heat source. Then I smoke the meat about 4-5 hours to get a good smoke ring in the meat. I do this at about 225-250 degrees. After 4-5 hours, wrap the shoulder or butt in aluminum foil and finish it off to about 195 internally. The bone should wiggle free without hassle when the temp hits 195 to 200.

Pull the meat and/or chop it and serve on sandwiched. Your mouth and friends will thank you.

Day 1: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Barbecue

There are many tips and tricks as well as tools of the trade that competitors and pitmasters use quite often to get the best results. We’re going to let you in on a few that we use quite often to get things going. We’ll start with the essential, and that’s fire.

Vegetable Oil and Paper Towel Fire Starter

So there are quite a number of methods for starting a fire including shorting out a car battery, gasoline and matches, dryer lint and a lighter, and so on, but these tend to be dangerous and/or extremely bitter in flavor. I’d like to share our favorite method which is odorless and doesn’t make your barbecue taste bitter.

About 10 years ago or so we were competing in a whole hog and shoulder competition and it was cold outside. Fire was not only necessary for cooking, but to stay warm. Luckily our good friend Jonathan Conley came prepared. He showed up with a gallon Ziploc bag full of folded squares of paper towel soaking in vegetable oil. We simply took one out, crumpled it into a mound about the size of half a baseball and set it under the charcoal chimney. All that was left to do was light one of the paper corners on fire and wait about 15 minutes for perfect white-hot glowing coals.

Use With Caution: Built in Handheld Thermometer

Seriously. Use this with caution. We’re not liable for you doing something dumb and burning yourself. Now that we have that outta the way, here’s a neat trick for at a glance slow smoking of larger meats. Ideally we like to smoke pork shoulders, butts, or even a whole hog at 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit and most of the time our built in chamber thermomometers work, but just like the old saying of Murphy’s Law goes, if it can happen it will. That’s never more true than when you depend on thermometers and they’re broken and/or miscalaibrated and you’re trying to check the heat of your smoke box.

Let’s say your instruments all break. Don’t sweat it. If this happens to you, a handy trick is to palm test the smoke chamber. Now, don’t go trying to palm the firebox. If you do, that’s not on me and your mom should have spent more time teaching you common sense, but alas, you’ll figure it out. The palm test is when you don’t want to open the smoke chamber and lose all the heat, but you want to know confidently that you have enough heat to cook with. It’s simple. Slowly approach the chamber with your palm open. If the heat is too much to bear even before you get close to the smoke box, your cooking too hot and too fast and need to choke down your stacks or your firebox air supply to cool down the fire. If you get to the surface with your palm and you’re able to comfortably place your hand on the surface for a considerable amount of time, then your fire is too cold and you’re on a slow pace to get done. The perfect amount of time to place your hand is to firmly apply your palm for a second or two before it becomes too uncomfortable and burns you. This is usually a decent enough heat to keep things rolling although you’ll want to phone a buddy and get something a little more accurate to read the temp.

All in all it’s a quick trick to keep you rolling, especially if you’re cooking overnight and thermometers aren’t readily available for a few more hours.

 

Turbinado Sugar

Ever see a Boston Butt that looked like the inside of a chimney? Overdone, carburized, burnt to a crisp? We’ve all been there, but what if I told you that all of them aren’t burnt that bad? Would you believe me? What if I told you there is a way to reduce the chances of over caramelization and blackening of the bark on your smoked cuts of pork and still have a sweet flavor? Would you want to know what that is? Sure you would.

Our main rub, Rub Beautiful, is made of Turbinado sugar just for that reason. Turbinado sugar is raw cane sugar before it has been processed, bleached, or had molasses added to it like brown sugar. Most people will confuse it with brown sugar, but it is in fact the mother of all sugar. The reason it is so much better for a finished bark on your barbecue is because it hasn’t yet been processed and has a higher threshold for crusting and turning black under high heat. In fact, when mixed with paprika or chili powder in your rub base (not unlike Rub Beautiful) it will give you a beautiful brick red color during the caramelization stage of smoking the meat. It makes for a beautiful finish and wonderful taste that’s not overpoweringly sweet, not crunchy or burnt, and defintely not bitter. It’s a neat trick that’s sure to please your next barbecue audience whether in competition or in the back yard.

Other Quick Tricks

  • No prep table? Easy, use a truck tailgate and some aluminum foil.
  • No wind for the firebox? Use a shop fan.
  • Dirty grates and no brush? Heat em up and ball up a wad of aluminum foil to scrub them with using a stick.
  • We’ll do a whole separate blog post on aluminum foil and duct tape.

365 Days of Barbecue

Good afternoon friends and family! I wanted to let you all know that JimQuessenberry.com is having its best year ever and to reward all of you for being our friends and fans, we’re going to be journaling our adventure one day at a time with our 365 Days of Barbecue blog.

Topics will always be about barbecue but with some different takes and twists on subject matter. We will continue to share recipes along the way so that you can get the most out of your barbecue experience with us. We hope that you find the blog to be informative and engaging as well as honest.

Let’s get started witha few newsworthy posts happening the past few days.

We’re on Amazon!

View our seller profile here. Our four top sellers are listed including our brand new Sauce Beautiful Gold. Of course you can always order online here at the website as well. Either way we’re excited to offer our products to a wider variety of customers.

We Just Made A Batch of Everything!

With the success of being featured on a few YouTube series and the announcement of Amazon, our Winter to Spring transition wiped us out of product. We’ve been fortunate to have higher than last year sales early in the year and have had to continue hitting the kitchen as often as possible to keep up.

Be sure to sign up for our various coupon mailing lists and subscribe to our blog for 365 Days of Barbecue