Brand Names

brand namesIt’s grilling season, but we couldn’t JUST serve up a steak. We had to make it personal.

Today, we’re testing a “BBQ Branding Iron” which purports to “Add a name or message to your steak!” It’s offered by multiple Amazon sellers each using different descriptive names, but every listing appears to sell the exact same product. Prices range from $11.65 to $39.99, but we paid in the lower range and ordered from a seller who offered Prime shipping.

bbq branding iron boxThe box includes a handle with a letter block, individual letters, blanks to insert between the letters, a small wrench, and 2 metal loops to prevent the letters from sliding out of the block.

bbq branding iron box contentsOur office grill champion took on the task of testing the bbq brander. Take it away Katie!


First, I hand-washed the metal letters, letter track and two loop locks before playing around with funny messages to brand. “YES” was an easy choice, as was “DO NOT TOUCH” and “THIS IS MINE.” I finally settled on “GET IN MY BELLY.” When arranging the letters, you have to remember to put them into the letter track backwards. It’s easy to forget, particularly with some letters that aren’t identifiable already backwards. The kit also includes blank metal spaces to separate the words in your message. You attach the two loop locks on either side of the letter track to keep everything in place as you are using the iron.

putting together the lettersOnce I felt confident I had everything backwards and spelled correctly, I headed out to start cooking. Beef steak was first.

ready to grillAs my grill was heating up, I put the branding iron inside and made sure to leave the wood handle sticking out. I grilled one side of my steak, flipped it over, and tried the iron. Despite having left the wood handle outside of the grill, it was still hot. VERY hot. Not wanting to continue burning the palm of my hand, I dropped the branding iron and scurried to my kitchen to get an oven mitt.

The second attempt was a success. After 10 seconds of leaving the hot branding iron on the sizzling meat, the message “GET IN MY BELLY” appeared on the steak. Nice!

grilled steakThe next food test was for our vegetarian and vegan friends: TOFU! (Side note: I am not a tofu connoisseur and had no idea it comes in different sizes and varying consistencies. Who knew? I do now!). I went extra firm, to get as close to the consistency of steak as I could.

extra firm tofuIn order to change the letters, I ran the branding iron under cold water and simply slid the used letters out of the track. Not feeling terribly creative, I changed the message to read “NOT MEAT.”

Perhaps my inexperience grilling tofu didn’t help with the branding, but it was an epic fail. I tried multiple times to make the “NOT MEAT” brand dark enough on the tofu. Not once did it work. I tried leaving the brand on the grill for more time, putting the iron on the tofu longer, and it just didn’t take. I also thoroughly destroyed the tofu as I was flipping it over (and over).

tofu failMy thoughts on the BBQ Branding Iron? Steaks – beef, pork, lamb – and certainly chicken breast are the choice meat to use in order to get the message sufficiently branded. I suspect that hamburger might also work, but since I didn’t test the iron on a burger, I’m not sure. Tofu is definitely a no-go.

There were some reviewers who felt there weren’t enough letters included in the package, and that the letter track was too small and should be wider for longer messages. I can fully appreciate and understand their concerns.

I believe the BBQ Branding Iron would provide a clever personal touch for a reception or party where steaks are on the menu. It also would be a great gift for someone who loves to grill. Personally, I can’t imagine myself using it on a regular basis.

Recommended for grill masters, meat lovers, and party planners!

Fast Funny Free Writes

fast funny free writes

It Conquered the World, 1956. From Mad Mad Mad Blog

We’re always on the lookout for fast, fun activities for Cotsen Critix, our literary society for kids ages 9-12. Recently, we took an unusual approach to the concept of the free write. Instead of writing prose from a prompt, we wrote speech bubbles. Using B-movie science fiction screen shots, of course. Here’s a small sampling of the hilarious results (and here’s the caption sheet if you’d like to try it yourself)…


PLANET OF THE FEMALE INVADERS, 1967
From flickr

fantastic duo 3_be quiet and stylefantastic duo 3_ghost of washington fantastic duo 3_all for publicityfantastic duo 3_fabulous banana


THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK, 1958
From Dwrayger Dungeon

problem in the lab 4_too good looking problem in the lab 4_sureee problem in the lab 4_it's in the brain problem in the lab 4_it wasn't decaf


CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON, 1953
From Say: Hello Spaceman

  3 dudes in suits 4_rice will not help you 3 dudes in suits 4_when will life end3 dudes in suits 4_he's knitting


THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, 1951
From IMDb

big robot 2_last tacobig robot 2_wear the cool suit big robot 2_time for your iron   big robot 2_toaster is a jerk


UNIDENTIFIED FLYING ODDBALL, 1979
From Cybernetic Zoo

rover chase 5_game of tag rover chase 5_it was fake rover chase 5_no space hererover chase 5_amateurs