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Long before we started selling Weber Smokey Mountain Cookers people were enjoying the smoky flavor of beef brisket, ribs, pork shoulder and chicken at their favorite barbecue restaurant.
In my travels, I would search out barbecue restaurants that were local favorites and I would talk to the pit master. There was always an interesting story about their barbecue pit’s design.
Although restaurants were using hickory, mesquite or post oak from the same region, diners would swear that the meat tasted different because of the unique design of the pit.
I grew up in Kansas City and I remember lively debates between my dad and uncles over which restaurant served the best barbecue, and the nuances in pit design, rubs, sauces and type of wood used.
In the late 1970’s many barbecue enthusiasts wanted to try smoking in their own backyard. We didn’t invent the backyard smoker, and we were far from the first grill manufacturer to get into the business.
We surveyed consumers listening intently to what they liked and disliked about backyard smokers. I attended many research sessions where smoke was in the air and my clothing smelled like mesquite or hickory-smoke for months.
We introduced the 18.5” diameter Smokey Mountain Cooker in the spring of 1981 and sales really took off. We knew we had a winner but some consumers commented that it was a large and expensive smoker, particularly if they were trying smoking for the first time.
We had all the presses and welding equipment to make a smaller model, so we quickly tooled-up and introduced a 14.5” model that we debuted at the National Hardware Show in August of 1981.
Well let’s just say that we pulled the trigger on this model before we had done enough consumer research. While backyard smoking was gaining in popularity, it was far from what it is today.
Today, many restaurants that do not specialize in barbecue, serve planked salmon or cuts of beef cooked in wood-fueled ovens. Americans across the country love smoky flavor and many find the 14.5” smoker just the right size for the foods they like to smoke.
So this time around, smoking is mainstream, we’ve done our homework and we’re pleased to bring back an updated version for 2014.