The Next Step In Grill Evolution

by Joe Kimray // July - August - September 2019

Summer is finally here, and for many people, that means it’s time to get outside in the evenings with family and friends to fire up the grill. Grilling has been around since the dawn of time. But when you think of modern grilling, the history really began in the 1920s when the charcoal briquette was invented by Edward Kingsford. The Weber charcoal kettle grill was created in the early 1950s, and the backyard cooking phenomenon captivated the newly-formed suburbs.

In the 1980s, mass-market production of “square, free-standing” models made gas grills, with their convenience and ease of use, the new standard of back decks across the country. In the mid-1990s, ceramic “egg” grills became popular with the ability to use charcoal and wood in a Kamado-style cooking process.

While most consumers are familiar with the aforementioned grill categories, a new type of grill is rapidly gaining market share, and is becoming the new standard for backyard cooking. That is the versatile cooking system of a wood pellet grill.

Wood pellet grills have been around since the mid-1980s, but were only a regional commodity of the Pacific northwest. This was due to the fact that between 1986 and 2006, Joe Traeger held the patent for a wood pellet grill. His family-owned company was based in Oregon, and remained a regional fixture until the patent expired.

In 2014, the Traeger brand was acquired by Jeremy Andrus who brought new leadership and fresh ideas of technology to the brand. Under his leadership, despite other brands now having the ability to compete, Traeger constitutes over 70% of the wood pellet grill market. Within five years, it is expected that it will be a billion-dollar brand.

A wood pellet grill uses an indirect heat, convection-style cooking process that circulates heat around the food, allowing the meat to remain juicy. Wood pellets provide a better flavor than charcoal in an easy-to-use system like a gas grill. This process has helped make grilling more accessible to everyone, regardless of grilling skill level.

Operation of the grill is a simple process. Wood pellets are loaded into a hopper on the side of the grill. There is an auger in the bottom of that hopper, which transports the pellets to a fire pot inside of the grill. This fire pot is where the fire is contained. The user turns the grill on and sets a temperature on the controller. As long as there are pellets in the hopper, the grill will automatically feed them to the fire pot at a rate to keep the temperature constant where it is set.

The indirect heat is provided through the use of a drip tray that diverts all of the fat and drippings from the meat into a bucket on the side of the grill, or into a grease drawer under the grill (depending on model). That drip tray is also essential to the cleanliness of the grill. Simply line that tray with aluminum foil for easy cleaning.

The newest technology that has been sweeping the grilling nation is the introduction of the Wi-Fi enabled wood pellet grill. Using IOT cloud-based technology, everything about this grill can be controlled via an app on iOS or Android devices, allowing for remote monitoring of everything from the grill temperature and internal meat temperature to the amount of pellets that remain in the hopper. In addition, Traeger has recently installed updated direct-drive motors to the augers; this direct-drive action feeds pellets to the fire pot faster upon start up, allowing the grills to heat up much more quickly than their predecessors.

The lazy days and leisurely evenings of summer provide an optimal time for you to gather friends and family and get outside and get grilling, whether it’s on the more traditional gas grill or “egg” version, or the revolutionary wood pellet grill. Regardless which route you go, we can all agree that enjoying some good grilling is one of the best ways to enjoy the summer season.

Photo courtesy of Traeger Grills.

Joe Kimray

With B&W Hardware, Co., the largest Traeger Grills dealer on the East Coast – and the only Traeger Platinum Dealer in the region. As the regional authority on the brand, they have the ability to provide you all of the information about how you can be a part of this wood fired revolution.