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Tops in tailgating: An ode to the Smokey Joe

By — Alex Baldinger,

I put as much effort into picking my tailgate lineup as I do my fantasy football team, and when it comes to parking lot grilling, I have a clear-cut No. 1 pick.

Weber’s Smokey Joe charcoal grill is the undrafted rookie who makes the team out of training camp, the undersize special teams player who lays down a crucial block on a game-winning kick return, the player whose name rarely shows up in the box score but who, as scouts like to say, has all of the intangibles. A football team can’t run a play without a center, and you can’t run a tailgate without Smokey Joe.

Smokey Joe is compact: A foot and a half tall and 9.8 pounds, soaking wet. He runs the 40 in, well, he doesn’t. But he’s great on the road. He’s durable. He plays with fire. Occasionally, he’s a bit of a hot dog (or whatever else you’re cooking), but he comes cheap — between $30 and $40 at most hardware stores — and he’s built for longevity.

Smokey Joe will keep you well fed in all seasons and your hands warm when it’s cold. He’ll toast your buns and warm your cider before those sub-zero Monday Night Football kickoffs (just be sure to extinguish all flames before heading into the stadium).

There are plenty of larger, more talented grills on the market, but few are as versatile as Smokey Joe.

— Alex Baldinger

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