Sunday May 16, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Kingsford Charcoal Briquette

On this Day:

Not exactly on this day, but round about now is the unofficial start of the backyard barbeque grilling season.

And 101 years ago, Henry Ford (yes, that Henry Ford) started what would be the Kingsford Charcoal company.  Henry had the assistance of a few friends along the way. Hat tip to Reid Trautz of Washington, DC for passing this along!  

On June 16, 1903, the Ford Motor Company was established. Henry Ford was the founder. This was not his first rodeo, as he had previously operated the Henry Ford Company. He left that company and took his name with him. What became of the Henry Ford Company? They became known as the Cadillac Motor Company.

What does any of this have to do with grilling season?

The Ford Motor Company sold more than one million Ford Model Ts in 1919. Each one used 100 board feet of wood for parts such as frame, dashboard, steering wheel and wheels. 

Frustrated by the mountains of sawdust his lumber mills created, he and his partners sought a way to utilize the scrap wood and sawdust into a useful (and profitable) product. 

Ford despised waste. His motto was, “Reduce, reuse, and recycle.” He was also a nature-lover, an environmentalist of his time. His escape from the stress of life was camping in the great outdoors. 

Because of the amount of wood used, Henry Ford decided to produce his own supply. He enlisted the help of Edward G. Kingsford, a real estate agent in Michigan, to locate a supply of wood. Kingsford’s wife was a cousin of Ford. In the early 1920s, Ford acquired large timberland in Iron Mountain, Michigan, and built a sawmill and parts plant in a neighboring area which became Kingsford, Michigan. The mill and plants produced sufficient parts for the car, but generated waste such as stumps, branches and sawdust. 

An idea came to him one day as he was camped with some friends in the wilds of Michigan . After his party spent a long time collecting sufficient wood for a campfire, an idea sprung in Ford’s mind. Upon returning back to the lumber mill, he shared the idea with some of his partners and set to work on it. The idea? Lumping a fistful of sawdust and cornstarch with a bit of tar to form a briquette After charring it, it performed exactly what Ford imagined it would. He then built a charcoal briquette factory adjacent to his lumber mill where the waste from one became the fuel for the other. 

A University of Oregon chemist, Orin Stafford, had invented a method for making pillow-shaped lumps of fuel from sawdust and mill waste combined with tar and bound together with cornstarch. He called the lumps “charcoal briquettes.” Thomas Edison designed the briquette factory adjacent to the sawmill, and Kingsford ran it. It was a model of efficiency, producing 610 lb (280 kg) of briquettes for every ton of scrap wood. The product was sold only through Ford dealerships. Ford named the new business Ford Charcoal and dubbed the charcoal blocks “briquets”. At the beginning, the charcoal was sold to meat and fish smokehouses, but supply exceeded demand.

A new Model T was now frequently sold with a bonus bag of Ford Charcoal Briquettes, so you could drive into the woods to camp and not worry about finding campfire wood. 

By the mid-1930s, Ford was marketing “Picnic Kits” containing charcoal and portable grills at Ford dealerships, capitalizing on the link between motoring and outdoor adventure that his own Vagabond travels popularized. “Enjoy a modern picnic,” the package suggested. “Sizzling broiled meats, steaming coffee, toasted sandwiches.” 

It wasn’t until after World War II that backyard barbecuing took off, thanks to suburban migration, the invention of the Weber grill and the marketing efforts. An investment group bought Ford Charcoal in 1951 and renamed it to Kingsford Charcoal in honor of Edward G. Kingsford (and the factory’s home-base name) and took over the operations. The plant was later acquired by Clorox in 1973.

Kingsford Charcoal is made from charred soft and hardwoods such as pine, spruce, hickory, oak and others depending on which regional manufacturing plant it comes from. That char is then mixed with ground coal and other ingredients to make a charcoal briquette. As of January 2016, Kingsford Charcoal contains the following ingredients:

Wood char – Fuel for heating

Mineral char – Fuel for heating

Mineral carbon – Fuel for heating

Limestone – Binding agent

Starch – Binding agent

Borax – Release agent

Sawdust – Accelerate ignition

The raw materials, primarily wood waste from regional sawmills, are delivered to the factory. The wood waste is fed into pits to undergo magnetic filtration to remove any metallic parts. The wood waste is then ground into fine particles and whisked with hot air to remove any moisture. The wood particles are later processed through a large furnace with multiple hearths (called a retort) in a controlled-oxygen atmosphere. The particles are stacked in batches in a kiln that chars the wood without burning in a controlled-oxygen atmosphere. The wood is progressively charred as it drops from one hearth to the next. The charred wood particles are combined with the other ingredients, press formed into pillow-shaped briquettes and dried before being packaged for sale.

So now you know Ford not only created the modern automobile industry which takes millions to work and back each workday, but he also created the weekend grilling and camping industries. 

Kingsford Charcoal is the largest producer of charcoal briquettes in the world (per and

First, a Story:

Where does an Australian keep his charcoal barbeque?  Outback…

Second, a Song:

Tim Montana is an American singer and songwriter. His single “This Beard Came Here to Party” (co-written with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons) was adopted by the Boston Red Sox as the theme song of their 2013 post-season run.

Tim was born on January 5, 1985 in Kalispell, Montana and raised in Butte, Montana. Tim was given his first guitar at the age of six. Since his family’s trailer had no electricity, Tim taught himself to play by candlelight. He later performed in school talent shows. After graduating from Butte High School in 2003, he moved to Los Angeles to study music.

It was while living in Los Angeles that Tim met guitarist and producer Johnny Hiland. With Hiland’s encouragement, he moved to Nashville and began playing country and southern rock. His debut album, Iron Horse, was produced by Hiland (who also played guitar and sang backup) and released on the CD Baby label on August 21, 2007.

Earlier that same year, late-night talk show host David Letterman met Montana prior to Montana’s Independence Day concert in Choteau, Montana. Months later, Letterman personally invited Montana to appear on The Late Show with David Letterman. Montana performed his song “Butte, America” on the show’s October 17, 2008 broadcast.

In 2013, Montana recruited guitarist Kyle Rife, drummer Brian Wolff, and bassist Bryce Paul to perform as Tim Montana and the Shrednecks. During a studio session on September 11, 2013, Montana was introduced to ZZ Top founder Billy Gibbons. Their meeting resulted in an impromptu songwriting collaboration, during which the two co-wrote and recorded the single “This Beard Came Here to Party.” The Boston Red Sox (known at the time for beards they’d grown during the playoffs) adopted the song as their anthem during the lead-up to the 2013 World Series. The Shrednecks and Gibbons recorded a custom version for the post-season (with lyrics referencing Red Sox highlights and Boston landmarks). Montana and the band later returned to sing The Star-Spangled Banner at Fenway Park at a May 28, 2013 ceremony honoring the winning 2004 World Series Red Sox team.

Montana and Gibbons would go on to share credits on three other songs: “Fifty Fifty,” “Weed and Whiskey,” and “Rust and Red.” The last of these received its broadcast debut during the Fox News show The Five during an interview with Navy SEAL Team 6 member Robert J. O’Neill, subject of the Fox News documentary The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden. O’Neill, a fellow native of Butte, had previously become acquainted with Montana through O’Neill’s brother Tom, a radio DJ and early supporter of Montana’s music. Robert J. O’Neill later featured prominently in the 2017 music video for Montana’s single “Hillbilly Rich”.

Following the release of “This Beard Came Here to Party,” Gibbons invited Tim Montana to open for ZZ Top on tour. Tim Montana and the Shrednecks have continued to appear with ZZ Top and opened for Kid Rock on various tour dates during the summer of 2016.

On February 24, 2016, Tim Montana released the album Tim Montana and the Shrednecks, featuring Gibbons on four tracks.

Tim Montana released the single “Hillbilly Rich” on September 8, 2017. He released a video for the song on Sep 19 which features friend Robert J. O’Neill and “Streetbike” Tommy Passemante from MTV’s Nitro Circus. In their review of the video Rolling Stone wrote that its “aspirational swagger is perfectly on message for Montana’s eclectic musical influences”. Actor Charlie Sheen took an interest in the video stating on Twitter “this is a stone-cold masterpiece! my man is flat out KILLIN THE GAME” to his millions of followers.

Montana wrote two songs which Kid Rock recorded for release as singles and are featured on the 2017 tour “Greatest Show on Earth”. The song “Tennessee Mountain Top” is receiving airplay on Country radio stations.

William Frederick Gibbons (“Billy Gibbons”) (born December 16, 1949) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor, best known as the guitarist and primary lead vocalist of American rock band ZZ Top. He began his career in the Moving Sidewalks, who recorded Flash (1968) and opened four dates for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Gibbons formed ZZ Top in late 1969 and released ZZ Top’s First Album in early 1971. He is also known as The Reverend Billy F. Gibbons.

Gibbons was born to Frederick Royal (“Freddie”) and Lorraine (née Duffy) Gibbons in the Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston, Texas. His father was an entertainer, orchestra conductor, and concert pianist who worked alongside his second cousin, art director Cedric Gibbons, for Samuel Goldwyn at MGM Studios. When Gibbons was five years old, his mother took him and his sister to see Elvis Presley. At age seven, Gibbons’s father took him to a BB King recording session. A percussionist at first, Gibbons was sent by his father to New York City to study with Tito Puente. In 1963, Gibbons received his first electric guitar following his 13th birthday, a sunburst Gibson Melody Maker, accompanied by a Fender Champ amplifier, and was influenced by guitarists such as Jimmy Reed.

Gibbons has made appearances with other artists and acted on television shows, most notably Bones. He was ranked at number 32 on the 2011 Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Gibbons formed ZZ Top in late 1969, and quickly settled on bassist/vocalist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank “Rube” Beard, both members of the band American Blues. After honing their trademark blues-rock style, they released ZZ Top’s First Album on London Records in 1971.

Gibbons is an avid car collector and custom car enthusiast with an extensive collection that includes a 1948 Cadillac Series 62 (known as CadZZilla), a 1962 Chevrolet Impala (known as “Slampala”), a 1950 Ford Business Coupe, and a 1958 Ford Thunderbird. One of his earliest custom cars, a 1933 Ford Coupe (known as “Eliminator”), was featured in three of ZZ Top’s music videos and is also on the cover of their 1983 album, also titled Eliminator. Gibbons also published a book in 2011 about his love of cars and guitars titled Billy F Gibbons: Rock + Roll Gearhead. The November 2014 issue of Guitar World magazine featured an interview with Gibbons and fellow guitarist Jeff Beck about their mutual appreciation of “cars, guitars, and everything in between”.

For several years, Gibbons has appeared wearing a braided-cloth cap rather than his familiar Stetson hat. During a visit to Vienna, he met the chief of the Bamileke people from Cameroon, with whom he traded the hat for the cap (per Wikipedia).

Here are Tim Montana and Billy F. Gibbons performing their song “Good ‘Ol BBQ”. Crank up the volume and let the smoke and the good times roll (per  I hope you enjoy this!


Oh, and we’re having bbq chicken for dinner tonight….can’t wait….

Thought for the Day:

“If summer had one defining scent, it’d definitely be the smell of barbecue.” – Katie Lee

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Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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