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 13: How to Make Your Burgers Go from Ordinary to Extraordinary Using One Simple Ingredient

First, get your fire started. I like to build a fire on one side of my grill to have a side for fast cooking and a side for slow cooking, or a holding area. I will share why later. I usually do my grate cleaning once the fire is lit and everything is warming up as the heat makes it easier to clean.

Next, get a bowl or pan to put your meat into, and then take your meat (preferably 80/20 ground beef) and spread it out by separating it into smaller clumps.

Season your meat by sprinkling salt and pepper on it and mixing it about. At this point many people will mix in a raw egg or breadcrumbs, you can do that if you like, but it is not necessary. The idea is to use the raw egg and/or breadcrumbs as a binder to help make the meat stay together, and the breadcrumbs also make the meat go a little further.

What makes this burger so good is the secret ingredient I use when seasoning and patting them out. My secret ingredient is none other than Sauce Beautiful, I like to mix about 1/2 cup per pound. I mostly just eyeball it. You want the sauce to act as the binder you are looking for, but don’t use too much or the sauce will do just the opposite, and make the meat fall apart more easily.

Then, roll up your meat into balls about the size of the palm of your hand. Then smash the balls into disc being careful not to let the discs split around the perimeter as the patty spread out. I like to make 1/2″ to 3/4″ patties. Some people like them thinner.

When you get your burgers patted out take your thumb and indent each patty right in the center, this will help to prevent the patty trying to return back into a ball shape as it cooks.

At this time, it should be about time to grill these awesome looking patties. you wanna put the burgers directly over the heat. Let the burger cook with a closed lid for about 5 mins per side for medium, and little longer for well done. If you have flare ups be sure to have some water handy to tame the fire. If you try to turn a burger and it is sticking to the grate, it probably hasn’t cooked on that side long enough. once the patties are firm and not falling apart, you can move them to the indirect heat, and add your favorite slice of cheese. I am a pepper jack fan myself. The burgers will continue to cook on the indirect side, and also the cheese will melt.

Once the cheese is melted onto the patty the burger is ready to go onto a bun. I like to toast the buns and then take a burger patty fresh off the grill and place it on a bun. Serve with your preferred condiments, and enjoy! The burgers will be really great tasting and not dried out as the Sauce Beautiful also helps to retain the moisture as the burgers cook. I call it the Quessenburger!

Day 11: Why Are We Celebrating? Giveaway Announcement

I am nearing the end of this day as I write this, but I wanted to share with you guys why we are celebrating today. If you have read the blog the last few days, you know today is our late father’s birthday, but it is also the go live date of when we took JimQuessenberry.com live in 2016! I’m not going to try to follow Lee’s last blog post because it was really good. So, without further adieu…

We are celebrating by offering a new giveaway! Click Here for Details!

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 7: 7 Reasons Why People Like Sauce Beautiful.

There are a lot of reasons why people like Sauce Beautiful, but we’re gonna narrow it down to seven the you’ll be sure to relate to. It’s science.

1. It’s good on everything.

Don’t take it from me. Just ask our friend Patrick Huey who used to spread it on toast like jam and eat the toast. I’ve heard of people using it as a topping for ice cream but have yet to verify those reports.

2. It makes a great gift.

Once you’ve had too many bad gifts you never want to send a bad gift to anyone ever again. That’s why Sauce Beautiful and our other products make great gifts alone or paired together on a gift basket. Never be the one that gives away hygienic socks or a fruitcake at Christmas again.

3. The bottles are made of glass.

You never know when you might need a glass bottle, but ours are handy if you ever need one. They have resealable tops and can hold several ounces of liquid. They’re made right here in Jonesboro, AR and are very rigid.

4. There’s a giant smile on every bottle.

Dad was a jolly fella. He was always joking or laughing about something. That tradition carries on to this day with our crew. Thanks to Colin Ruthven, the artist behind the caricature, we’ve immortalized and preserved the best character traits of our Dad for the world to enjoy.

5. Every bottle holds a dream.

Every single bottle of Sauce Beautiful holds a dream. The sauce came to Dad in a dream and it was made on the stove immediately upon waking up. The recipe hasn’t changed since then with only a few minor adjustments to account for volume production. We still fill and label every jar by hand. It was a dream that Dad wanted to come true so we’ve been doing it ever since.

6. The label design is a family project.

Since it all began the labels have primarily been designed by my mother Donna. After Michael and I got old enough to produce sauce on our own, I have taken over those duties and have used Sauce Beautiful as a springboard for new ideas and marketing adventures to prove myself and be successful both in the BBQ business and professionally.

7. It’s just plain good.

Our friends love it. Our family loves it. It just has the perfect composition of bold flavors and tangy zip that makes everyone love it. Kids love it a lot. Our Dad tested new BBQ stuff on us all the time and this is still by far my favorite of our sauces.

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.

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

This is my passion!

You know when you are growing up and everyone asks you, “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” As a kid, I remember thinking, I want to be a farmer, a cook, or a Ninja Turtle.  The first two choices were because I looked up to my dad, he wore those two hats, and of course I knew I couldn’t really be a Ninja Turtle I had no way to obtain Mutagen, It was just something to entertain my friends and I as a kid. I was distraught when all of my friends quit playing Ninja Turtles and began being Power Rangers. At some point, our pretending to be mutants and super-heroes faded and my friends and I got into liking girls and being competitive in sports instead. I even began to tear down the awesome TMNT wallpaper border in my bedroom for fear that I would get made fun of if my brother’s friends came over and saw it. Little did I know that being a nerd would ultimately become cool.  Lee and I grew up as kids that played outside making forts in the nearby creek, but also had a love for video games.  Our love for video games started with our dad’s Commodore 64. Dad was always into technology. His interests in computers set me and my brother on a path that would eventually lead us to our careers. We tore up a lot of computers, and made some expensive mistakes, but we learned the ins and outs of computing.

Farming became a bust for Dad in the 90s as it was for many small farmers. You couldn’t make a living on it anymore. So, that was out for me as well. I don’t think I was really that interested in the first place. So, I knew then what my real passion was. It had transcended through all the years of my interests and hobbies. I remember being just 3 or 4 years old and standing in a chair next to the stove helping dad cook our BBQ sauce. He would call me his “little saucier”.  Mom being the very crafty woman that she is came up with the original packaging of the first gen Sauce Beautiful. The first gen jars were a lot like the throwback labels we still use in our retro gift basket, but first gen jars were quart sized Mason jars with a picture of the iconic caricature of dad holding the world champion trophy stuck on the front, and actual black watch plaid tied onto the top as a dome cover. It wasn’t until later we had the labels made to look like the plaid.  Lee and I grew up marketing this sauce and cooking along side our mom and dad.

The mid to late 90s were not quite as fun, we had financial issues, and other family issues, that ultimately led to our brand new hobby sauce business having to go out of business. No need to relive that here, except to say that through it all Lee and I held on to our passion to make our sauces and rubs for those friends and family lucky enough to know we were still boot legging it to make ends meet. Also, there weren’t many nights we would cook a meal inside. We had a Radio Flyer red wagon with a Weber Smokey Joe in it. Dad would send Lee and I to pick up groceries, Lee to drive and me to pick out the good veggies and meat for grilling. Needless to say we got a little grill time in.

Fast-Forward through the years, Lee and I both took our interest in computers and got degrees in Computer Science, It was a long road, and very hard at times, but through it all, our passion to cook and make sauces and rubs shined through. I smoked a whole hog for my junior prom. We catered the end of the year party every year at our apartment complex when we moved to Jonesboro to go to college. We even built our first barbecue sauce selling e-commerce website as a project for our software engineering class.

As you may already know, after college Lee and I decided to pick back up were we as a family had left off so many years ago, and start making our sauces and rubs commercially as well as competing in contests. We have had some bumps in the road, but we have picked up a few trophies of our own and made some good friends and fans along the way.  The journey doesn’t end here, I see the successes and the pitfalls we have had in our last few years resurrecting our brand, and no matter where the road may take us I will never give up, because This is my passion!

Thanks for Reading!

Michael Q