The start of football season means it's tailgating season. And for the 70 million Americans who consider themselves enthusiasts of this "party in the parking lot," it also means it's time to go shopping.
Tailgating items and accessories, from portable grills to gas-powered blenders, now constitute an industry all their own. Just this month, retail giant Wal-Mart transformed garden centers at 1,700 of its stores into "Game Time Headquarters," selling all manner of tailgating supplies. Online tailgate merchants abound as well, be they specialists (our favorite is The American Tailgater or major names (Amazon.com stocks everything from a tailgating "kit" with a table and cooking utensils to a tailgate-friendly "Freedom Grill" that affixes to your trailer hitch).
With that in mind, here are six new or noteworthy items that might be worth bringing along to your next tailgate.
Weber Char-Q ($199, available at various retailers): Renowned grill-maker Weber took portable grilling -- and tailgating -- to a whole new level when it introduced its sleek and compact Q line a few years ago. (Even Oprah Winfrey sang its praises.) The only problem? The Q grills were strictly gas models -- and true barbecue aficionados know that you only get that extra flavor from using charcoal. Now, Weber has finally introduced this just-as-user-friendly charcoal model, which has a respectable 280 square inches of grilling space and a removable catch pan.D'Artagnan's Grill's Best Friends sampler ($89.99, available online): Sure, you can grill the usual burgers and hot dogs -- or you can go for the good stuff. D'Artagnan, a gourmet specialist that bills itself as "the leading purveyor of foie gras, pates, sausages, smoked delicacies, organic game and poultry in the nation," offers this package aimed at adventurous-minded tailgaters. Among the offerings: Wagyu (or Kobe-style) beef patties, wild boar sausages, buffalo sirloin steaks and uncured duck hot dogs.