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By: Max Good
Say goodbye to the PK Original Grill. PK300 will be replacing it soon.
The Original PK Grill came out in 1952, the same year as Weber kettles. Over the years the company went through ups and downs and changed ownership, and the grill went on and off the market, but it really didn’t change for half a century. One reason for the longevity, despite traveling a rocky road, was the rust resistant, cast aluminum design which refused to die. Many PK owners inherited their grills or found them for 20 bucks at a yard sale. But perhaps a more compelling reason was PK’s unusual rectangular shape and flat bottom that made it particularly well suited for 2-zone cooking. It’s easy to push the charcoal to one side and create a hot zone directly over the fire with a moderate, indirect zone on the opposite side. Additionally, PK’s unique dual intake and exhaust air dampers can be set for cross ventilation. Open the air intake on the lower right damper and close the opposite one on the left, then close the upper right exhaust damper while leaving the opposite left side damper open.
The resulting cross current carries heat and smoke from the lower right to the upper left, further accentuating the 2 zones. PK easily and effectively maintains both zones simultaneously.
For grilling over hot, direct heat across the entire cook surface, open all four dampers.
This basic design remained unchanged for more than 60 years. Then in 2014, new management took over, and before long, began delighting us with compelling new riffs on the PK. After some new product releases, PK announced in 2021 they will replace the beloved and venerable PK Original Grill with the PK300, aka “The New Original.”
Classic….Beloved….Original. The 1950s design shown above may look its age, but current owners who contemplate upgrading to the new PKs may have a tough time justifying the expense because their old grills are still going strong and will likely be in service for many more years to come. Alas, PK feels it’s time to put this decades old model out to pasture. Goodbye old friend. You served us well. Although PK is discontinuing the original original, it will be available until all inventory is gone. Click here to read our review of the original original, classic PK.
In 2016, the new PK management team unveiled the PK360 and began an exciting new era for their classic brand. Big, beautiful and even better, with heavier construction, PK360 includes thoughtful improvements and a larger cook surface. Click here to read our full review.
Hot on the heels of PK360, PKGO rolled out in 2020. Once again, the new design team’s time at the drawing board was well spent. All PKs can be removed from their carts for portability, but the compact PKGO went a step further for additional ease of transport. Already on the big side for a portable charcoal grill, PKGO doubles its cooking capacity with a clever “FLIPKIT” that converts the lid into a second grill for side by side “dualing” hibachis. Click here to read our review.
Now comes the latest iteration. So far, all of the new PKs have lived up to our performance expectations set by the Original Original. PK300 tweaks the Original Original design and incorporates upgrades borrowed from PK360 and PKGO. Here are some of the new features:
• Taller working height. The cooking surface on the new model is raised up from 27 inches to 30 inches off the ground, making it easier to stand at the grill and cook.
• Cart construction is beefed up with cast aluminum lugs and aluminum tube rails.
• The lid hinge is upgraded from the Original to the new, improved heavy duty Dura-hinge.
• The interior ash control system prevents ash from escaping the capsule out the bottom.
• More shelf space. One and two fold-down shelf models will be available, and the cart features a storage shelf at the bottom.
• A digital thermometer probe port is included on the rear capsule for minimal interference.
• An improved hinged cooking surface with a removable section creates easy access to coals, simplifying indirect cooking.
And we’re told a version of the optional FLIPKIT from the PKGO is planned so you can have two grills in one.
We’ve always loved the PK Original and now that the family is growing, there’s even more to love. PK’s quest to build a better mousetrap has proven successful so far and appears to be gaining momentum. Their approach has been logical and elegant in equal parts.
Portable Kitchen Grills began in Texas in 1952, the same year as Weber. Since then PK had ups and downs, changed ownership, went on and off the market, but the original classic, rust-proof aluminum bodies refused to die and kept the grills and the PK name and mystique alive as they were passed down from generation to generation. In 2014 a new management team began pumping life into this nichey old beloved grill that really hadn’t changed for over half a century. By the end of 2016 a new PK360 model was rolled out, beginning a new era for PK with more new designs to follow.
We used an Original Classic PK Grill in our Science of BBQ & Grilling With Meathead video series presented by Kingsford. Click here to see videos from that series
Published On: 6/30/2021 Last Modified: 12/1/2021
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