The unique smoky flavor is hard to beat and it’s a flavor that doesn’t come from just any gas or charcoal grill. It comes from a smoker and they’re growing in popularity among backyard chefs.
“What we are selling more of is the Traegers,” said Kady Snyder, assistant manager at Ace Hardware in Mount Union.
The Traeger is a pellet smoker. Snyder said one of the reasons it may be more popular is because of the flavor of the pellets.
“Pellets are a better flavor,” she said. “They also come in specialty flavors. They come in more flavors than the chunks and bark that you get in a regular smoker.”
She said the Traegers are the most popular style of smoker they sell. She estimates they’ve sold around 20 since the beginning of the year.
“It makes (the meat) moist and fabulous; the taste is unreal,” she said. “It’s a really good smoker.”
Snyder said they also sell other smokers.
“Masterbuilt is the other brand of smokers we have,” she said. “We have a couple that are propane and a couple that are electric. And they take wood chunks.”
However, Snyder says she prefers the pellet smokers, though they come at a hefty price.
“The Traeger sells anywhere from $700 and up, depending on how far up you want to go, while the Masterbuilt is anywhere from $100-$300,” she said.
In Shirleysburg, Eldwin Eby, the owner of Mountain Air Grills, said he has been selling more of the Green Mountain Grills than the Traegers.
He said the Traeger grills work better with the bigger stores like Ace Hardware and not as well with dealers like him.
Instead, people seem more interested in the Green Mountain Grills, which he has seen a slight growth in sales now that grilling season has started.
Joe Brenneman, owner of Brenneman’s Meats in Smithfield Township, said he has had a lot of people with new grills.
“I see a lot of people coming in (having bought) these new grills (looking for meat) to smoke or cook,” he said.
He recommends beef briskets and pork butts as the best ones for smoking.
However, he has noticed grilling is not just limited to the summer time anymore.
“I’ve noticed a trend of people grilling in the winter also,” he said. “Buying lots of steak.”
He said he isn’t sure exactly why this has changed.
“I guess they’re just hungry for steak,” he said.
He said others sometimes buy baby back ribs and spare ribs for grilling, but “briskets would be best to try.”
However, for someone looking to get adventurous, he suggests moving to another meat completely.
“They could do chicken,” he said. “Chicken halves on the grill, or all kinds of variety of chicken you can do: boneless, skinless, chicken breast.”
He said people are also buying lots of burgers.
“I’m making about 200 pounds of hamburger patties a day,” he said.
He added, with a laugh, “I’m getting tired of making burgers.”
Jesse can be reached at email@example.com.