11 Summer Grilling Supplies That Are Worth the Splurge

Get grillin'
Get grillin'
Hammacher Schlemmer / iStock

Everyone has at least one family member just waiting for the right day to break out their grilling equipment. Now that we're finally getting a little bit of warm weather, grill aficionados can finally break out their best apron and tongs. If you're into outdoor cooking, check out these tools and devices that are worth spending a little bit extra on it.

1. CUSTOM BRANDING INITIALS; $58

Amazon

If you view grilled meat as edible art, then it needs the artist's signature. Let everyone know who cooked those perfectly seared steaks and burgers with an actual customizable branding tool.

Find it: Amazon

2. SPICE RUB COLLECTION; $60

Dean and Deluca

Having a fancy arsenal of spices to rub on your food is what's going to take your grilling to the next level. This kit comes with nine tins of Dean and Deluca's most popular spice rubs: barbeque, Cajun, Jamaican jerk, pork, poultry, Asian, rib, Moroccan, and Southwestern.

Find it: Dean and Deluca

3. A COOLER THAT YOU CAN DRIVE; $1000

Hammacher Schlemmer

Imagine rolling up to your grill spot while riding on a cooler filled with ingredients. Yes, that's right: You can drive your beer and condiments to the picnic at a breezy 12 mph. The motorized cooler comes with three wheels, a 1000 watt electric motor, and handlebars that have a throttle and brake lever. Beep beep! Time to barbecue.

Find it: Hammacher Schlemmer

4. NARWHAL SKEWERS; $46

UncommonGoods

Grilling is about to get a lot more cute with the help of this pair of stainless steel narwhals. Their signature horns spear through cubed food and their tails double as handles. Normal skewers will do just fine and cost a lot less money, but can you really say no to something this charming?

Find it: UncommonGoods

5. GRILLBOT; $72

Amazon

Tired of cleaning the grill? Get the barbecue version of a Roomba to do the dirty work for you. The small cleaner works with most grills and has dishwasher-safe bristles. Choose from one of four colors: black, blue, orange, or red.

Find it: Amazon

6. STAR WARS TIE FIGHTER GRILL; $400

Amazon

Looking to add a sci-fi spin to your barbecue routine? How about a TIE fighter gas grill? This officially licensed piece of equipment is a compact option for grilling in small spaces. If the appearance isn't enough, the grill comes with a Star Wars logo that can be seared into the bottom of your meat.

Find it: Amazon

7. MARINADE INFUSING MEAT TENDERIZER; $50

Hammacher Schlemmer

This interesting device is two tools in one: While it tenderizes your meat, it also has three needles that inject marinade directly into your food. To avoid marinating for hours, fill the plunger with 3 ounces of any sauce you'd like infused into your meat, and you can start grilling within minutes.

Find it: Hammacher Schlemmer

8. KEBAB CUTTING TOOL; $40

Amazon

Make 16 perfectly cubed kebabs with this gadget. Tightly pack in meat, vegetables, or fruits into the container—the slots allow a knife to cut through the food with guided precision. It comes with 32 bamboo skewers, a storage bag, and even a lemon juicer on top.

Find it: Amazon

9. THAWING PLATE; $60

Amazon

If you're too impatient or short on time to wait for frozen meat to thaw, there's a kitchen tool for that. This thawing plate has embedded heating pipes so that any frozen foods placed on top will be ready for grilling in half the time. No electricity or batteries are required to make it work, meaning you can take it outdoors while camping or tailgating.

Find it: Amazon

10. LED STEAK THERMOMETER; $60

Amazon

Instead of trying to understand an unreliable meat thermometer, get something a little easier: A device that lights up when your meal is ready. You can tell how done the meat is by the color of the light: green is medium rare, yellow is medium, and red is medium well.

Find it: Amazon

11. GRILL DADDY; $19

Amazon

Cleaning the grill is about to get a whole lot easier with the Grill Daddy. Using hot clouds of steam, the device makes quick work of grime and cooked-on food. And the gentle bristles won't damage porcelain, cast iron, or steel grill grates, making it the perfect cleaner for all grill types.

Find it: Amazon

14 Retro Gifts for Millennials

Ravi Palwe, Unsplash
Ravi Palwe, Unsplash

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means the pop culture they grew up with is officially retro. No matter what generation you belong to, consider these gifts when shopping for the Millennials in your life this holiday season.

1. Reptar Funko Pop!; $29

Amazon

This vinyl Reptar figurine from Funko is as cool as anything you’d find in the rugrats’ toy box. The monster dinosaur has been redesigned in classic Pop! style, making it a perfect desk or shelf accessory for the grown-up Nickelodeon fan. It also glows in the dark, which should appeal to anyone’s inner child.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dragon Ball Z Slippers; $20

Hot Topic

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas to feel like a Super Saiyan. These slippers are emblazoned with the same kanji Goku wears on his gi in Dragon Ball Z: one for training under King Kai and one for training with Master Roshi. And with a soft sherpa lining, the footwear feels as good as it looks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Pokémon Cookbook; $15

Hop Topic

What do you eat after a long day of training and catching Pokémon? Any dish in The Pokémon Cookbook is a great option. This book features more than 35 recipes inspired by creatures from the Pokémon franchise, including Poké Ball sushi rolls and mashed Meowth potatoes.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Lisa Frank Activity Book; $5

Urban Outfitters

Millennials will never be too old for Lisa Frank, especially when the artist’s playful designs come in a relaxing activity book. Watercolor brings the rainbow characters in this collection to life. Just gather some painting supplies and put on a podcast for a relaxing, nostalgia-fueled afternoon.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

5. Shoebox Tape Recorder with USB; $28

Amazon

The days of recording mix tapes don’t have to be over. This device looks and functions just like tape recorders from the pre-smartphone era. And with a USB port as well as a line-in jack and built-in mic, users can easily import their digital music collection onto retro cassette tapes.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Days of the Week Scrunchie Set; $12

Urban Outfitters

Millennials can be upset that a trend from their youth is old enough to be cool again, or they can embrace it. This scrunchie set is for anyone happy to see the return of the hair accessory. The soft knit ponytail holders come in a set of five—one for each day of the school (or work) week.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

7. D&D Graphic T-shirt; $38-$48

80s Tees

The perfect gift for the Dungeon Master in your life, this graphic tee is modeled after the cover of the classic Dungeons & Dragons rule book. It’s available in sizes small through 3XL.

Buy it: 80s Tees

8. Chuck E. Cheese T-shirt; $36-$58

80s Tees

Few Millennials survived childhood without experiencing at least one birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This retro T-shirt sports the brand’s original name: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. It may be the next-best gift for a Chuck E. Cheese fan behind a decommissioned animatronic.

Buy it: 80s Tees

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas Picnic Blanket Bag; $40

Shop Disney

Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will recognize the iconic scene on the front of this messenger bag. Unfold it and the bag becomes a blanket fit for a moonlit picnic among the pumpkins. The bottom side is waterproof and the top layer is made of soft fleece.

Buy it: Shop Disney

10. Toy Story Alien Socks; $15

Shop Disney

You don’t need to be skilled at the claw machine to take home a pair of these socks. Decorated with the aliens from Toy Story, they’re made from soft-knit fabric and are big enough to fit adult feet.

Buy it: Shop Disney

11. Goosebumps Board Game; $24

Amazon

Fans that read every book in R.L. Stine’s series growing up can now play the Goosebumps board game. In this game, based on the Goosebumps movie, players take on the role of their favorite monster from the series and race to the typewriter at the end of the trail of manuscripts.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Tamagotchi Mini; $19

Amazon

If you know someone who killed their Tamagotchi in the '90s, give them another chance to show off their digital pet-care skills. This Tamagotchi is a smaller, simplified version of the original game. It doubles as a keychain, so owners have no excuse to forget to feed their pet.

Buy it: Amazon

13. SNES Classic; $275

Amazon

The SNES Classic is much easier to find now than when it first came out, and it's still just as entertaining for retro video game fans. This mini console comes preloaded with 21 Nintendo games, including Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Planters Cheez Balls; $24

Amazon

Planters revived its Cheez Balls in 2018 after pulling them from shelves nearly a decade earlier. To Millennials unaware of that fact, this gift could be their dream come true. The throwback snack even comes in the classic canister fans remember.

Buy it: Amazon

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What Really Happens When Food Goes Down the 'Wrong Pipe'?

The dreaded 'wrong pipe' calamity can strike at any time.
The dreaded 'wrong pipe' calamity can strike at any time.
Photo by Adrienn from Pexels

Your average person isn’t expected to be well-versed in the linguistics of human anatomy, which is how we wind up with guns for biceps and noggins for heads. So when swallowing something is followed by throat irritation or coughing, the fleeting bit of discomfort is often described as food “going down the wrong pipe.” But what’s actually happening?

When food is consumed, HuffPost reports, more than 30 muscles activate to facilitate chewing and swallowing. When the food is ready to leave your tongue and head down to your stomach, it’s poised near the ends of two "pipes," the esophagus and the trachea. You want the food to take the esophageal route, which leads to the stomach. Your body knows this, which is why the voice box and epiglottis shift to close off the trachea, the “wrong pipe” of ingestion.

Since we don’t typically hold our breath when we eat, food can occasionally take a wrong turn into the trachea, an unpleasant scenario known as aspiration, which triggers an adrenaline response and provokes coughing and discomfort. Dislodging the food usually eases the sensation, but if it’s enough to become stuck, you have an obstructed airway and can now be officially said to be choking.

The “wrong pipe” can also be a result of eating while tired or otherwise distracted or the result of a mechanical problem owing to illness or injury.

You might also notice that this happens more often with liquids. A sip of water may provoke a coughing attack. That’s because liquids move much more quickly, giving the body less time to react.

In extreme cases, food or liquids headed in the “wrong” direction can wind up in the lungs and cause pneumonia. Fortunately, that’s uncommon, and coughing tends to get the food moving back into the esophagus.

The best way to minimize the chances of getting food stuck is to avoid talking with your mouth full—yes, your parents were right—and thoroughly chew sensible portions.

If you experience repeated bouts of aspiration, it’s possible an underlying swallowing disorder or neurological problem is to blame. An X-ray or other tests can help diagnose the issue.

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