Competition Team Survey Results from the New Jersey Barbecue Championship, North Wildwood, NJ

A while back, I read an article about how competitions are killing barbeque.  I wish I could find the piece (so I could give proper credit to the author), but the basic premise was that the ultra-competitiveness of these competitions are impeding the networking and sharing of ideas that are necessary to improve the barbeque craft.  Indeed, teams invest a lot of money and time in these competitions, and some teams may not want to share the exact recipes or cooking methods that would give up their advantage. But at the New Jersey Barbecue Championship in North Wildwood, I did not find that this was the case.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the entire weekend, and Justin and Bill had to take on all of the cooking without me, but I was hard at work for those 2 days that I was able to attend.  Hopefully, you have already read the article that I wrote on the history of the competition.  But the other reason I wanted to go down was to survey the teams on some of the ways that they cook and present the various categories to the judges.  Established competition teams, new or veteran, can see how other teams are doing it.  And hometown heroes, doing barbeque in the backyard, can gain insight into how competition teams are going about it, whether they are thinking about entering the barbeque circuit themselves or whether they just want to see what the best of the best are doing.  As I went from tent to tent to talk to each team, I found a willingness to share drinks, stories, and techniques that directly negate the premise of the article’s author.  Every team that I met seemed to  welcome the opportunity to share their experience, and understood the importance of sharing this information with others.

Although I was not able to meet every team at the event, a majority of the teams are represented here.  A huge thank you to each team that spent time with me to answer the survey.  In some cases, I have refrained from offering insight to the data, so that you could have more opportunity to form opinions, and hopefully share them in the “comments” section.


Number of Smokers

48% of those teams that had dedicated smokers had only 2 smokers


Smoker if one.png


Many teams use multiple types of smokers.  Each was represented here as a percentage of the total.



Many teams used different types of wood, depending on the meat category.  Others used two types in order to blend the flavors of the wood.



Notice that only 2 percent of teams did not use any charcoal at all.


Rib Cuts

Rib Wet or Dry

Dry vs. Wet, great debate!


Pork Butt

Most teams are looking to include the “money muscle” and tubes.



Jersey Joint

About half the teams were from out of state, so understandably, they were not familiar with New Jersey barbeque restaurants.  But many New Jersey teams were also not familiar with the options that the state has, which is very disheartening.  Some teams said that they did not go out for barbeque, but preferred to cook it themselves instead.  Many favorite restaurants were in the direct vicinity of the team’s hometown. 


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