12 Expert-Level BBQ Gadgets to Buy This Summer

Giang Nguyen/istock via Getty Images
Giang Nguyen/istock via Getty Images

Outdoor barbecues are a beloved tradition, but that doesn’t mean you have to use traditional equipment. Grill masters and inventors are always cooking up new gizmos for the rest of us to play with. If you want to up your BBQ game, get your mitts on these 12 nifty items before the summer’s end.

1. Char-Broil SmartChef TRU-Infrared 420 3-Burner Cabinet; $644


This high-tech, Wi-Fi-connected grill lets you control your cookout from your phone. You can adjust the burner temperature and monitor cook times on your mobile device with the SmartChef Gas Grill Mobile App, where you can also access a whole library of delicious recipes. If you so desire, the grill will also remind you when it’s time to flip the meat and insert the temperature probes (among other tasks). The burners can also be operated manually, in case you want the occasional experience of cooking with a conventional grill. Whether you're using your phone or controlling temperatures manually, though, the infrared cooking system heats evenly and prevents flare-ups to keep your meat juicy.

Buy it: Walmart

2. Looftlighter Original Electric Fire Starter; $80


Never buy lighter fluid again. In just 60 seconds, the eco-friendly Looftlighter Electric Fire Starter can superheat air to set your charcoal ablaze, no flammable liquids required. Briquettes, natural coal, and wooden kindling can all be easily ignited by the handheld wand.

Buy it: Amazon or BBQ Guys

3. Grillbot Automatic Grill-Cleaning Robot; $100

An automatic grill cleaning robot on a charcoal grill
Grillbot, Amazon

Scraping the crud out of your grill is a nasty chore. The good news is, now you can outsource it. Grillbot is an automated cleaner—like a Roomba for grills—that removes charred residue with swiveling, removable brushes. Heat-resistant plastic allows the Grillbot to operate on sweltering surfaces, so it can be used whether your grill has cooled down or not. Just plop it on top of the grate, set the timer, and close the grill lid. Then grab a cold one while your new best friend terminates some grill scum.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Royal Gourmet 8-Burner Gas Grill; $366


Anyone throwing a big company party or family gathering will want this massive eight-burner grill on standby. It can cook more than 120 hot dogs (or upwards of 60 hamburgers) at the same time. If feeding that many hungry guests all at once doesn’t make you a summertime superhero, we don’t know what does.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Meater Smart Meat Thermometer; $70


The time has come to toss your simple meat thermometer in favor of something a little fancier. MEATER's wireless thermometer probe has two different sensors to ensure your meat is perfectly cooked. One sensor gauges the meat’s internal temperature, and the other measures the ambient heat. Status updates are sent to the free MEATER app, which you can use to keep an eye on your food from pretty much anywhere. (Webber’s iGrill2, $60, is another good option for backyard chefs seeking an app-connected thermometer.)

Buy it: Amazon

6. BBQ Grill Light & Fan; $90

Kill—or should we say, “grill”—two birds with one stone with Sharper Image's barbecue-top light/fan combo. The unit’s adjustable LED fixture gives you a light to cook by after the sun goes down. And no matter what time it is, you’ll want to take advantage of its other key feature: a pair of smoke-clearing fans. The clamp is designed to fit most grill hoods.

Buy it: Sharper Image

7. Stingray 7-in-1 BBQ Grill Multi-tool; $15


Barbecues are busy events—you’ve got burgers to flip, red-hot sausages to pull off the grill, and a six-pack of beer bottles to open. Normally, you’d need at least three separate tools to get everything done. But that’s the beauty of this stainless steel multi-tool from Stingray. It’s an ingenious cross between a BBQ fork, a pair of tongs, a spatula, and a bottle opener. And here’s the best part: You can operate the whole thing with one hand.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Bear Paws Shredder Claws; $13


Able to withstand temperatures as high as 475°F, the Bear Paws are a slick replacement for more conventional cutlery tools. They’re versatile, they’re easy to wash, and they’re just plain cool. Use them to lift, pull, and shred hot meats—all while embracing your inner grizzly.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Chef's Kitchen 7-Piece Outdoor BBQ Apron and Utensil Set; $13


You'll have no more panicked searches for misplaced BBQ tools with this apron and utensil set from Chef's Kitchen. For under $20, you can get a set of salt and pepper shakers, three stainless steel grilling tools, an oven mitt, and, of course, a durable apron with enough pockets to hold all those things.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Grillaholics Stuffed Burger Press; $15


What’s better than a hamburger covered in delicious toppings? A hamburger that’s stuffed with ‘em, courtesy of Grillaholics' stuffed burger press. Take some patty meat, put it at the bottom of this press, and use the inverted cup on the lid to make an opening for your favorite ingredients. Then put the remaining meat on top and close the contraption. With a simple squeeze, you’ll have the makings of a perfectly round, goodie-filled burger. Included with your purchase is a digital recipe book worthy of Bob Belcher.

Buy it: Amazon

11. Charcoal Companion Stainless Grill Clips; $10 for Four


Grilled veggies are a welcome addition to any BBQ spread, but flipping individual pepper slices or asparagus spears one-by-one is a pain. Fortunately, Charcoal Companion offers game-changing clamps that’ll save you a bunch of steps. Once you’ve secured a handful of vegetables inside one of these clips, you can flip them all in unison.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grill with Sear Box; $900


You don’t have to micromanage your fuel supply to grill meats with that perfect, wood-smoked flavor. The Woodwind automatically burns just enough wooden pellets to reach and maintain whatever cooking temperature you set. Inside, you’ll find 811 inches of cooking space. And next to the main grill, there’s a propane-powered sear box that gets as hot as 900°F.

Buy it: Amazon or BBQ Guys

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

12 Quirky Books for Imaginative Kids

Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster

Though childhood classics like A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh and Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are never truly go out of style, each year brings a new cache of funny and fantastical books that will feed the expanding imaginations of young readers everywhere. From a self-conscious sewer monster who wants to make friends to a gluttonous dinosaur who gobbled up Christmas, this guide has the perfect quirky story for every kind of kid on your holiday gift list.

1. Rumple Buttercup // Matthew Gray Gubler ($9)

This whimsical tale about a self-conscious sewer monster is written and illustrated by Criminal Minds star, and king of quirk, Matthew Gray Gubler. While cute characters and a simple message about embracing your individuality make it a great gift for very young kids, its absurdist humor makes it a laugh-out-loud read for older kids and adults, too.

Buy it: Amazon

2. President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath // Mac Barnett ($8)

president taft is stuck in the bath
Candlewick/Amazon

Mac Barnett’s good-natured retelling of William Howard Taft’s infamous (though unconfirmed) bathtub blunder teaches children two things. One, history is far from a tedious list of names, dates, laws, and battles. And two, even the most stately world leaders have embarrassing moments.

Buy it: Amazon

3. It’s Only Stanley // Jon Agee ($15)

it's only stanley book
Dial Books/Amazon

When strange noises wake the Wimbledon family at night, they assume their dog Stanley is cleaning or fixing something; in reality, Stanley is transforming their house into a rocket ship that will carry them to an alien-inhabited planet. Fans of The Secret Life of Pets and Phineas and Ferb’s Perry the Platypus will love this rhyming read-aloud (and surely wonder what their own pet is up to when they’re not around).

Buy it: Amazon

4. Frankie Sparks and the Big Sled Challenge // Megan Frazer Blakemore ($6)

frankie sparks and the big sled challenge
Aladdin/Amazon

Third-grade inventor Frankie Sparks is back for the third book in her STEM-inspired series, and this time, she’s about to learn that the hardest part about creating a competition-winning sled is less about sled-building and more about team-building. Great for elementary school kids who love to create anything—be it art or architecture—as well as anyone who’s ever had to work on a group project.

Buy it: Amazon

5. The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! // Mo Willems ($10)

the pigeon has to go to school
Hyperion Books/Amazon

Mo Willems’s original pigeon book was Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, a thoroughly riotous, award-winning tale about a pigeon trying to convince readers to let it drive the bus when the bus driver asked them not to. In the latest story, the headstrong pigeon pivots to something it very much does not want to do—go to school. It sends a message about the value of doing things you don’t want to do, but, most importantly, it’s also really funny.

Buy it: Amazon

6. The Glass Town Game // Catherynne M. Valente ($11)

the glass town game
Simon & Schuster/Amazon

Catherynne M. Valente spins a riveting fictional tale from the true story of Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell Brontë’s childhood in a Yorkshire parsonage, where they passed the time dreaming up an intricate fantasy land populated with toy soldiers. In Valente’s novel, the fantasy land comes to life, complete with whale-sized flies, Champagne flutes that play music, and fire-breathing porcelain roosters, and the siblings must use all their wit and imagination to figure out how to get home. It’s a little like Alice in Wonderland meets The Chronicles of Narnia, and perfect for fans of both.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Lambslide // Ann Patchett ($13)

lambslide
HarperCollins/Amazon

The internationally bestselling author of Bel Canto and Commonwealth is just as clever when it comes to writing for kids. In Lambslide, a group of lambs mistakenly hear lambslide instead of landslide and begin a farm-wide campaign for an actual slide for lambs. With quaint illustrations, endearing characters, and an engaging plot, this is the type of book that ends up in the family for generations.

Buy it: Amazon

8. The Book With No Pictures // B.J. Novak ($9)

The Office alum B.J. Novak turns storytime into a full-fledged comedic performance with The Book With No Pictures, a book filled with nonsense words and phrases like blork and blaggity blaggity, which the reader has to read aloud. For parents, it’s a blueprint for embracing their silly side. For kids, it’s a chance to see their parents not seem so parental.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Spencer’s New Pet // Jessie Sima ($14)

spencer's new pet
Simon & Schuster/Amazon

The author of Not Quite Narwhal returns with another adorable story, this time about a boy who must avoid sharp objects in order to protect his balloon-animal pet dog. The mostly black-and-white illustrations (except for the dog, which is red) give Spencer’s New Pet a refreshingly old-fashioned feel, and the tale itself is sweet, evenly paced, and timeless.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Serafina and the Black Cloak // Robert Beatty ($8)

serafina and the black cloak
Disney-Hyperion/Amazon

When children begin disappearing from the Biltmore Estate, Serafina, who secretly lives in the basement, knows the culprit is a mysterious man in a black cloak who prowls the corridors at night. This novel has everything a quality middle-grade fantasy needs, including secret passageways, a forbidden forest, unknown magic, and a scrappy heroine. And the chills and thrills don’t stop at the end—it’s the first in a series of four (so far).

Buy it: Amazon

11. The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas // Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter ($18)

the dinosaur that pooped christmas
Aladdin/Amazon

This jolly, strange story about a ravenous pet dinosaur who gobbles up all of Christmas is hilarious enough on its own—and perhaps even more so when you consider that it was written by British punk rockers Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter from the band McFly.

Buy it: Amazon

12. This Is a Taco! // Andrew Cangelose ($16)

this is a taco
Lion Forge/Amazon

A high-spirited, unique squirrel named Taco provides color commentary on regular squirrel facts in This Is a Taco!, a book that is much more than a factual guide to squirrels. In it, Taco embellishes, acts out, and sometimes completely changes the facts to be truer to his personal experience as a squirrel, which involves being opinionated and eating lots of tacos.

Buy it: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

8 Adorable Products You Can Buy for International Sloth Day

Good Luck Socks/Intelex via Amazon
Good Luck Socks/Intelex via Amazon

It’s that time of the year again, folks—the time when we all collectively lose our chill over a slow-moving, two- or three-toed mammal with an adorable squeak and poop that defies physics. That’s right: International Sloth Day is coming on October 20. Here’s a list of must-have coloring books, onesies, and Christmas sweaters that you can pick up to showcase your love of one of the internet's favorite animals.

1. Cuddly Microwaveable Sloth; $23

Microwavable sloth for International Sloth Day.
Intelex/Amazon

Warm your heart and your body with a plush sloth that doubles as a soothing heating pad. The toy is filled with millet grains and dried French lavender, a combination intended to help you get to sleep easier.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Hanging Ceramic Sloth Planter; $19

FattyBee Ceramic Sloth Planter.
FattyBee/Amazon

This flower planter pulls double duty, communicating both your love of sloths and your appreciation for plants. And it makes a tasteful piece of hanging home decor, too.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Sloth Coloring Book; $7

Sloth Coloring Book on Amazon.
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform/Amazon

Sloths themselves are already works of art, but you’d be forgiven for wanting a few more sloth-related crafts in your life. Now you can make your own masterpiece with this detailed coloring book. All you'll need are some colored pencils and you'll be ready to go.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Farting Sloth Coloring Book; $7

Sloth Farts Coloring Book on Amazon.
M & L Coloring Books/Amazon

But maybe traditional coloring books aren’t your thing. You’re in luck: Amazon sells a coloring book for the crowd that both loves sloths and laughs a little too much at farts.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Sloth Socks; $14

Sloth Socks on Amazon.
Good Luck Socks/Amazon

These socks are ideal for people who might not want to wear their love of sloths out in the open but are very comfortable showing it off on their ankles.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Sloth Onesie; $60

Tipsy Elves Sloth Onesie on Amazon.
Tipsy Elves/Amazon

No list of sloth-related products would be complete without a cozy onesie, and this one from Tipsy Elves is perfect for either pajamas or a last-minute Halloween costume. This onesie even comes with zippered pockets and cuddly sloth claws!

Buy it: Amazon

7. Sloth-Themed Ugly Christmas Sweater; $45


Tipsy Elves/Amazon

Why not celebrate the upcoming holiday season with this sloth-themed ugly Christmas sweater? You’re sure to be the hit of any holiday pub crawl or office Christmas party.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Sloth Mug; $13


Mika Mugs/Amazon

Really, what says it better than this mug? You just really freaking love sloths, and there’s nothing wrong with that, so be sure to declare your feelings along with your morning cup of coffee.

Buy it: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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