Preschool Market Woefully Underprepared For Holiday Season

Fisher-Price

Shoppers may be used to long lines and flustered staff during the holiday season, but nobody was prepared for the pandemonium at a local preschool’s play market over the past week. Ms. Meredith, the class teacher reported that the 3 to 5-year-old little entrepreneurs were committed to creating the “ultimate best super holiday store,” as early as five minutes before opening the doors, but parents were baffled by almost every managerial decision made by the group of mostly potty-trained children.

For starters, Shirly’s Farm-to-Market stand made no effort to switch to a more seasonably appropriate inventory. You would typically expect an artisanal merchant to stock some pumpkin-spiced goodies during the fall and winter, but instead she is standing by the more rustic veggies that made her spring offering such a success.

Farm To Market Playset

When asked if this was a calculated move to offset oversaturation in the market, Shirly responded by holding up a couple of bright red tomatoes, and insisting audaciously that “no, these are pumpkins now, see?” When challenged on that claim, the young farmer pivoted to asking whether pumpkins were fruits or vegetables, and this reporter was forced to concede that while pumpkins are technically fruits, it does seem like they should be vegetables, and the point was dropped.

It should be said that while the preschoolers may have been unprepared to manage a bustling pop-up market, some children at least had an eye for clever branding opportunities.

Cake Pop Playset

“It’s like a popsicle, but it’s cake. Those are my two favorite foods,” said aspiring baker Timothy, showcasing a decadent cake-pop display. Pressed for details about his inspiration for opening a cake pop shop within a pop-up market, the aspiring baker replied, “This one is blueberry, even though it’s pink.” Genius isn’t always articulate.

Still, the cracks of Timothy’s business plan began to show early on. Originally hoping to include a selection of charcuterie and other snackable treats, the young restauranteur was forced to let his friend Melanie take over that side of the budding business. There is a strict sharing policy in place at the market that helps prevent monopolies and the occasional tantrum.

Snacks Playset

Asked if he would do anything different, Timothy looked thoughtful for a moment, then informed me that the cake pop icing doesn’t always fit on top of the macaroons, but he can just put it in the middle and hold it together. Hopefully the same is true of his business model.

It’s not just the food merchants facing a heavy hit during the holidays. Caden mans the sheers at the market barber shop, but patrons coming in for a family holiday photo sometimes walked away a bit confused.

“I don’t really think of myself as a ‘hipster,” said Caden’s mother. “So I was a little confused when he styled me with this beard right out of Brooklyn,” she chuckled. “It just doesn’t fit my mom-aesthetic, you know for a few reasons.”

Barber Shop Playset

If anyone got ahead of the curve, however, it was local jack-of-all-trades Cynthia, who was on hand with her trusty toolkit to help with the holiday decorating. While you wouldn’t think hanging decorations required a full-caliber wood saw, the young handywoman seemed adamant about hacking away at every surface she found. An eager superintendent might be a dream to some, but Cynthia’s enthusiasm left not a lot of decoration-baring structures standing.

Toolkit Playset

“I mean, you expect a little chaos, but this is just insane,” said one local shopper, who conceded that even though her shopping experience was more tiring than usual, she’d still be a repeat customer. “The kids are just so freakin’ cute. What else do you want?”

Pretend Play, a new line of pretend toys from Fisher-Price®, encourages children to explore the wonder of their imaginations with toys that mix wood, plastic, and soft materials. Find out more about Pretend Play here.

Despite being completely plausible to parents, This Just In is satire and intended for entertainment purposes only.

This post was sponsored by:
Fisher-Price®

These Toys Are Great For Telling Toddlers “It’s About Time You Got A Job!”

Fisher Price Doctor set

Kids love to play astronaut-cowboy and princess-ninja. But kids also love to role play as everyday grown-ups—just like their own moms and dads (if only they knew). One of the things we forget as parents is just how serious play is to a kid, no matter what world or adventure they are exploring. Check out 4 moments inside these imaginary worlds that are guaranteed to transport you to a more fun place, too.

Hayden stepped back and admired his work in the mirror. Not every barber would cut and style their own hair, but Hayden wasn’t afraid to take some chances for his craft. He was a little afraid of the scary buzzing sound that hair clippers made, but what good artist isn’t frightened by their work? Most people didn’t know what it was they wanted to do with their hair, which is why Hayden rarely asked. As an old-timey kinda kid, Hayden didn’t see how you could go wrong with the classic looks like the straight line he tried to shave straight down the middle of his own head. Styling wasn’t something he cared for regularly, but for a fancy night out, a little bubble gum works wonders. The most important thing, Hayden thought, as he coiffed his new look, was that you definitely shouldn’t run with scissors. His dad had been very clear about that.

Savannah was nearing the end of her second 15-hour shift of the week. As always, she said she’d be fine without nap time. As always, she was wrong. But in a busy hospital, you don’t have time to second guess yourself. At least there would be a tall glass of grape juice with her name on it waiting when she was done. She’d written it there in marker all by herself. But first things first, she had to clear up a pretty nasty case of Stage 4 Gross Guts Syndrome.  Savannah wondered if she’d left her gloves inside the patient’s tummy after shoving all his bits back in him. She didn’t want the poor guy to worry, so she kept her concern to herself by saying “I hope I didn’t leave my glove in there” really loudly right in front of him. But then she remembered: she hadn’t worn gloves.

Fisher Price Market Playset

One day Sheryl knew the world would be excited for her chocolate apples and gummy worm beans, but you don’t build an all-natural empire in a day. In the meantime, the weekend farmer’s market was the perfect place to unload tomatoes, kale, green beans and anything else that she would absolutely not allow on her plate. Yes, even if Daddy chopped them up so small that she couldn’t tell they were there; if she even thought there was an onion in her spaghetti, it was over, pal. Still, to thrive in this economy, Sherly would need to cultivate a strong brand, and that meant making an impression. “That’ll be $2,000.00,” she declared without hesitating. Was this too much to charge for a single tomato? Perhaps. But who’s to say what a truly artisanal food experience was worth? Plus, the customer was her younger brother, and he’d do anything she told him to for at least another year or so.

Fisher Price Camping Playset

Cory wasn’t supposed to have visitors past dark in the forest, but technically he wasn’t supposed to be out past dark at all. So there didn’t seem to be much harm in showing off his expansive 1000-square-foot outdoor retreat when his friends came over to play. As the ranger of this forest, Cory could point out all the major landmarks like the big tree, Daddy’s grill, and the best spot to find worms. The best part about camping out was cooking by the fire, of course. And even though Cory’s forest was usually on the moon or sometimes underwater, the fire crackled delightfully as the marshmallows roasted. The only thing they had to look out for was the bears. Bear was Cory’s dog, but also, sometimes his friends turned into bears. It was a magic underwater forest moon, after all.

Pretend Play, a new line of pretend toys from Fisher-Price®, encourages children to explore the wonder of their imaginations with toys that mix wood, plastic, and soft materials. Find out more about Pretend Play here.

This post was sponsored by:
Fisher-Price®

The Dad’s Council of Grilling

Dad Grill Masters

For dads, grilling is an essential skill, a beloved pastime, and a favorite way to impress the family. Not to mention it’s the best way to one-up Carl from down the street, always showing off his sous vide machine and refinished deck. Nobody cares, Carl! But what is it about grilling that makes it so appealing?

We sat down with dads from New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, LA, and Toronto for some frank talk about the art of cooking franks (and burgers and everything else). We found that some elements of grilling are universal, but all dads bring something unique to the table. Join us for an honest talk about buns, beers, and everything in between.

Okay, right out the gate: Gas or Charcoal?

Cincinnati: Ah, the great debate of our times.

NYC: This is anonymous, right?

Toronto: I’ve heard from a science standpoint that gas is actually better. Although I’ve also heard you have more options with charcoal, like smoking and such. But I still like the convenience of turning a knob, especially in the era of fatherhood. It’s all about saving time.

Philadelphia: Gas. I don’t like washing my hands.

Cincinnati: Team Charcoal! Gas grills are just inconvenient outdoor gas stoves. CHANGE MY MIND.

LA: Yeah, if you’re grilling with gas you might as well just haul your oven outside. I don’t see the point.

NYC: I like charcoal because I like to make the little brick pyramids. It makes me feel connected to the ancient ways.

What is your main grilling inspiration?

LA: …What?

NYC: Like, what is more important to you? The perfect party or the perfect burger? I, for one, don’t enjoy hosting a bunch of people, but grilling up the perfect steak is how I relax during a busy work week.

Cincinnati: Grills, to me, are experiential and communal. Grilling is either time for me to chill on the deck alone, or time to have people over and cook up a ton of food and hang out.

NYC: Yes, those were the options, haha.

LA: Party first, food second. A good burger is nothing without a beer in your hand and your friends hanging out.

Toronto: Okay, dad admission: I’ve often manned the grill to avoid chatting with my family.

NYC: Oh, you gotta switch to charcoal then. Way more time behind the grill.

Cincinnati: Or get into smokin’ meats. Gotta watch that for days.

Toronto: Hmmm. Yes, I’m beginning to see the genius in this.

Do you have any grilling wins you’re particularly proud of? Or, #fails you still shake your head over? 

Toronto: Just yesterday I was grilling with the kids behind me shooting each other with water guns. Nice moment.

Philadelphia: Grill Win: Taught my children the importance of the toasted hot dog bun.

NYC: Sometimes the simplest lessons are the best ones. 

Cincinnati: That’s great. I’ve taught both of my kids to grill. We were jokin’ earlier about using it as a way to avoid family, but it’s a good bonding experience too for sure. Although last week I volunteered at my kid’s swim meet and had to man the grill. It was 90+ degrees and I grilled up 100+ burgers and hot dogs. It was a nightmare.

NYC: Is that a win or a fail? 

Cincinnati: I am not a grill master but I wore my Grill Master University shirt IRONICALLY. I was standing there dying from heat exhaustion, trying to keep up, overcooking everything. A lot of disappointed swimmers that day.

NYC: Well a crispy hot dog is better, in my opinion. 

Cincinnati: Truth. 

LA: STRONG DISAGREE. Boiled all the way, baby. 

NYC: WHAT?! Are you, a pigeon living on the streets?  

Speaking of toasted buns. What is the ideal bun for burgers and dogs? 

NYC: Toasted, obviously. And I like whole wheat. A lot of burgers you see these days use brioche bread for the buns. I’m not a fan. It’s too sweet, and they don’t hold anything together. 

Philadelphia: I’m not too picky, but the bread needs to be fresh. Oh, and with cheese melted on top. Well, I mean on the inside. Not on top of the – you get what I’m saying.  

LA: Thing I do with buns sometimes: spread a light layer of ranch on both sides of the bun and broil in oven for five minutes.

Toronto: Ranch buns? Whoa. 

Philadelphia: Seeds or no seeds on a bun? 

NYC: Seeds all the way. The more texture the better. I really like Everything Rolls

Philadelphia: This is the maximum number of seeds I’ll accept on a bun:

Weird Burger

NYC: That is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. 

Cincinnati: Get out of here man. Seeded bread is highly underrated. 

LA: Did your kid make that out of Play-Doh? 

Do you have any signature recipes or something you’re known for behind the grill?

Cincinnati: Keeping things simple is key. Burgers for me are lean ground beef, garlic, Worcester, soy sauce, and an egg. That’s it. For fun, sometimes I’ll let my kids pick a special ingredient to throw in, like putting cheese in the patties for example.

NYC: Juicy Lucy! That’s pretty good, but I like to throw some bread crumbs and different seasoning rubs in to play around a bit. 

Cincinnati: Yeah, those are clutch. I like Texas rubs the most. 

NYC: I added a Kansas City rub to a hot dog, and like, I did it as a joke, but it was the best hot dog I ever had. And if I’d boiled it, all that seasoning would have washed off, so, boiling hot dogs is a sucker’s game. 

LA: Alright, alright. 

Toronto: I’ve started chopping up raw bacon slices and sprinkling them into my burger blend. Things have been going pretty well. 

Philadelphia: Here’s a dad hack. I grill frozen pizzas. My kids think I’m a pizza chef. I do nothing. 

Cincinnati: You’re a cheater, but I respect it. 

So what is it about grilling that makes it, you know, “grilling?” If it’s not the heat source, or even the food itself, then what is the secret sauce of grilling?

LA: Grill lines make food taste better. That’s science. 

Toronto: Channel your inner caveman, playing with fire. But also, sometimes you gotta be really impressive with like a crazy good made-from-scratch meal. 

Cincinnati: Yep yep. Like I mentioned, the experience of it. Taking time. Food I grill just tastes better to me, but maybe it’s actually not any better? Maybe because I went through the process of building the fire and cooking it that way, maybe that made it taste better to me.

NYC: I think it’s the sizzling sound, honestly. It does something to the brain. The sound of meat hitting the grill is my self-care. 

Cincinnati: Plenty of good veggie or non-meat options for the grill, too. 

Speaking of vegetables, let’s talk sides. What are the most important things at a grill besides meat? 

NYC: Can’t go wrong with mushrooms. They’re good on burgers and steaks and on their own. And asparagus. I keep ordering asparagus at restaurants, thinking I like it, but it’s only good homemade. Steakhouses make them too bland, they need to be oily. 

Cincinnati: There is only one way to cook asparagus, and that’s to cook a pound of bacon, and then cook the asparagus in a little bit of the leftover bacon grease.  

LA: Texas Toast. 

NYC: Yes, bread. America’s favorite vegetable.

Philadelphia: I mean, the most important things include beer and good tunes. 

Quick, name your *must-play* cookout song. 

NYC: *whispers* Don’t say Carly Rae Jepsen. Don’t say Carly Rae Jepsen. Don’t Say Carly Rae Jepsen. 

Cincinnati: Haha. Reminds me of this tweet:

Philidelphia: “Got to Give it up” by Marvin Gay. 

LA: The best grilling song is “Feel My Heat” from Boogie Nights. 

Toronto: “Summer in the City,” The Lovin Spoonful. 

NYC: Okay I still say if CRJ can get Tom Hanks in a video, then she’s Dad Approved, but in the interest of not getting yelled at on the internet,  my official grilling anthem is “Street Fighting Man” by the Rolling Stones. 

LA: Wide range between those. 

NYC: I am a man of many levels.

Grill Dad
All the essentials for a The Dad Approved BBQ

Beer cans, or bottles?

NYC: Cans are better. Keeps light out so the beer isn’t screwed up. And it stays colder longer. But there is something that just looks better about a bottle, and it’s more satisfying to take a swig from them. 

Philadelphia: Frosted mug.  

Cincinnati: Ooo, satisfying as heck. 

Dad Joke Pint

LA: I love a frosted mug, but it gets too warm too fast by the grill. And then if you don’t have backups, then the first beer is perfect but the next 35 are disappointing. 

If you could only teach your kid ONE thing about grilling…what would be the lesson? 

Cincinnati: Every dad already knows this instinctively, but when you’re holding the tongs, it’s SO IMPORTANT to give ‘em a few test-clicks every once in a while, to make sure they’re still working.

Philadelphia: True foundational skill. Once that’s set, the rest comes easy. 

This conversation was sponsored by Kroger’s Private Selection, who provided us with all the perfect ingredients for delicious Summer BBQing in any time zone. Kroger believes that summertime should be simple, and from gourmet ingredients to inspired shortcuts, every Private Selection product is designed to elevate everything about your favorite meals. While The Dad was paid to feature Private Selection, our opinions were not solicited, and we stand by them. Seriously, the brisket dogs are good as heck.

This post was sponsored by:
Kroger’s Private Selection™️

7 Ways to Reignite Your Summer BBQ

Late Summer BBQ
(Getty / Klaus Vedfelt)

In the closing days of summer, it’s important to rack up as much time behind the grill as possible before the long winter descends to rob us of all joy. Don’t get us wrong, we know dads would keep the grill lit during a blizzard, but you might have trouble convincing your family to join you out on the deck. 

Now, maybe you’ve got a tried-and-true burger blend recipe, or perhaps you like to rely on “grill instinct.” Either way, the latter half of summer is the best time to get inspired with new ideas to bring it home when you fire up the coals. (Or crank up the propane. We don’t judge). Here are some of our favorite ways to turn any ole’ BBQ into the neighborhood event of the year.

Switch Up Your Steak

(Kroger)

Nothing beats a perfectly grilled steak, but once you find a cut and method that works, it can be hard to branch out and try new things. Steaks are sacred, but their simplicity should encourage a spirit of adventure.  Some of the thinner cuts like flanks, skirts, and hangers don’t get the love they deserve considering their fantastic flavor and perfect charring. As for seasoning, a little salt and pepper are all you need, but a pinch of Herbes de Provence can add an elevated dimension to your flavor profile.

If you are more of a traditionalist, you can still add new life to the classic cuts by tweaking your cooking method. Wood planks have been a staple of seafood grilling, but it’s a great way to add a deep, smoky flavor to a T-Bone or other hefty steak as well. It’s excellent for keeping burgers juicy, too.

Better Apps = Better BBQ

Gourmet Pigs in a Blanket
(Kroger)

Sure burgers and dogs get all the cookout credit, but to keep people happy, you need a killer spread placed from the get-go. 

Pineapple may be a controversial usurper of pizza, but it’s a perfect way to add bright and refreshing flavor to a grilled meal. Wrap some perfectly cut chunks in bacon, then brush with a simple glaze made by whisking together brown sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and soy sauce. See the step-by-step here.

Of course, let’s not overlook the greatest party app known to humanity, the Pig in a Blanket. Skip the canned meat, and go for a big ole’ Private Selection smoked sausage, cut up and wrapped in puff pastry for a gourmet take on this favorite. You can find a more detailed recipe here.

Help Your Hot Dogs

Hot Dog Bar
(Kroger)

Now let’s get to the main event. Why are so many hot dogs served with all the flair of one of those eating competitions where buns are dunked in water to be more esophagus efficient? Be better than that. Hot dogs deserve it. 

Toasting buns is a given, but stand out with bread that does more work than hold the dog. An inspired example: . You can also wow the crowd with a toppings bar. Our favorite options are chopped roasted red peppers, olives and feta cheese for a Mediterranean dog, or cubed ham and leftover pineapple from those bacon bites we talked about, to turn the BBQ into a luau. 

Show Off With Sides

Gourmet Corn
(Kroger)

If your idea of baked beans is…just a can of baked beans, then we could venture a guess as to why people aren’t writing home about yours. Simmer them with a couple of tablespoons of Memphis inspired BBQ sauce and dijon mustard to add waves of flavor; if you still have some bacon left, here’s where it goes.

Grilling corn on the cob makes for deliciously charred kernels, but there’s so much more you can do to make your husky bois stand out. Set aside the basic table salt and try experimenting with more exotic flavors. Chimichurri makes for a bold Argentinian flavor, while a little Garam Masala spices add an Indian touch.  If you’re more an Italian fan, a brush of garlic butter with basil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese is *chef’s kiss.*

Finishing Touches

Chimichurri Steak
(Kroger)

We talked about chimichurri for corn, but don’t forget that it’s a perfect complement to some of those thin cuts of steak we were playing around with, too. The fresh herbs, lime, and garlic make for an easy but memorable finishing touch to any meat, but it’s also a unique dipping sauce for fries or -better yet- drizzled over a savory potato and veggie packet.

Also, who says you can’t break out the grilling tongs for date night? Skip the tie and jacket, and bring the steakhouse to your backyard with more gourmet finishing sauces like bearnaise and porcini truffle. She might not even notice that you snuck in a late-season grill session.

Get Some Saucy Sauce

BBQ Ribs
(Kroger)

The sauce is boss when it comes to BBQ, and the more playful you get with yours, the more exciting your cookout will be. Alcohol-infused sauces are maturing as a niche gem for foodies and grillmasters alike, and Kroger’s Private Selection has introduced more nuanced varieties than the sticky-sweet bourbon sauce you may be used to.

Shred up a slow-roasted pork shoulder and mix in Pale Ale & Mustard Sauce for a BBQ classic without having to dig up a whole pit. Barrel-Aged Kentucky Bourbon BBQ Sauce maintains the sweet profile with some oakiness for a fuller flavor that’s excellent for spatchcock chicken.

Weeknight Grill

Grilled Pizza
(Kroger)

Okay. Not every day can be a weekend. Sad but true. Still, the grill is just sitting there; why not use it for more casual weeknight dinners on top of your cookout extravaganzas? 

Frozen pizzas are lifesavers for exhausted parents everywhere, and can go from freezer to plate after 15 minutes on the grill. Now, we’re #PepperoniGang4Life, but an Italian Buffalo Mozzarella and Arugula is a perfect pie for the last days of summer. 

Then there is the ultimate Tuesday meal: tacos. You may not think of Taco Tuesday as a grilling occasion, but before you head to work one day, toss a strip steak into a baggie with a healthy dollop of carne asada marinade. By the time you get home, you’ll have the main ingredient ready to hit the grill, and it’s taco-time by 7. Check out the full recipe here.

Just because Summer is winding down doesn’t mean you have to put your grill skills to rest. This article is sponsored by Kroger’s Private Selection, which is designed to elevate everything on your plate. From gourmet ingredients to inspired shortcuts, each Private Selection product is designed to make your summer menu delicious and simple. Shop online, or at your local Kroger store year-round, because grilling seasons may come and go, but dads know how important it is to keep their game up, even in the offseason. 

 

This post was sponsored by:
Kroger’s Private Selection™️

The Dad’s BBQ Breakdown

Barbecue Sauce Dripping

What is Barbecue?

BBQ, if speaking literally, is a method of cooking meat “low and slow,” as the saying goes, usually in a pit or a smoker. But BBQ is also the best dipping sauce for chicken fingers and the third-best flavor of potato chip (Salt ‘n Vinegar is where it’s at). To some folks, a BBQ is even just a gathering of friends and family, with food cooked on a grill, and no actual barbecue involved.  

People have different ideas about what makes BBQ. There are four main regional varieties, from which most BBQ flavors derive, but what makes each unique? We wanted to know more about what defines the definitive American meal, so Kroger hooked us up with the details that went into making their Private Selection Regional BBQ Sauces. While regional BBQ is about more than sauce, the Kroger team did extensive research in bringing to life the handcrafted flavors that put the BBQ Belt on the map. Grab your bib; we’re digging in. 

The Beginning

Before we get into a big internet brawl over where “real BBQ” comes from, let’s get on the same page as to how it all began.  “Barbacoa” is the word Spanish settlers used for the indigenous cooking method of roasting meat with indirect heat in a pit in the ground. The Spanish took the idea North to the European colonies where this whole USA thing kicked off. You didn’t need expensive cuts of meat to make a lot of delicious food this way. So, as the colonies expanded, BBQ became an affordable crowd-pleaser for church picnics, political rallies, and other community events. 

The Carolinas

A purist will tell you BBQ belongs to the Carolinas. That’s where the real beginnings of what we call BBQ today took place. The Carolinas insist that hog is the only animal worthy of the name “BBQ” and pride themselves on chopped pork sandwiches and whole-hog roasts. Back then pigs were abundant in the south, but they were much leaner than the porkers of today, so slow-roasting them over a pit was the best way to tenderize the meat.

Even more unique is the Carolina BBQ flavor, which comes not just from the meat…but the mustard. In the 1700s, the government gave German immigrants land grants in hopes of boosting South Carolina’s agriculture economy, and they all brought mustard with them. A lot of BBQ is rich and sweet, but the original BBQ sauces out of this region were mustard and vinegar-based. To this day, an excellent Carolina-inspired sauce will be bright, and tangy, with just a hint of sweetness.

Texas

Smoked meats over a BBQ Pit

As people set out for the West to claim their fortune, they brought the BBQ fad with them. However, cowboys aren’t called pigboys for a reason, and brisket became the go-to meat for Texas-style BBQ. Even though beef is tender without a long cooking process, smoking would help it keep longer. No “pard’ners” complained about this development.

Sauce is more of a finishing touch in the Lone Star State, so Texans adapted theirs to be thicker and richer. The vinegar base is rounded with Worchestershire and roasted tomatoes, but the real kicker in a Texas-Inspired BBQ sauce is the black pepper flavor that hits your tongue right away. Pour this over sliced brisket, ribs, and sausages smoked for up to 16 hours for BBQ that punches you in the jaw, and melts in your mouth. 

Memphis

Memphis is most famous for dry-rubbed pork ribs, but that doesn’t mean they skimp on the sauce. Ribs are rubbed in a (dry, obviously) mixture of seasonings that give it a hickory flavor, but once those bad boys come out of the smoker, dipping is fair game. 

Bluff City is a port town, so when BBQ aficionados set up shop, they had access to a lot of new ingredients. The Mississippi River’s favorite cargo was molasses, which is where the sweet, sticky style of BBQ sauce many Americans love comes from. The best Memphis-Inspired sauces feature a tangy flavor as rich as the blues, paired with the sweet touch of molasses. We may not use Old Man River like we used to, but the region’s history as a shipping hub allowed their distinctive style of sauce to spread far and wide.  

Kansas City

The last stop on our BBQ tour is Kansas City, a town with just two men to thank for putting them on the meat map of America. In 1908 Henry Perry began to marry East and West traditions by selling racks of ribs, sliced brisket and fatty pork-ends on sheets of newsprint for a quarter. When his friend Arthur Bryant took over the restaurant, he added a peppery flavor to the signature sauce that went on to become legendary.

Kansas City Ribs

You may not be able to find Bryant’s recipe, but a good Kansas City Inspired BBQ Sauce is made in the same tradition. The sauce from this region is thicker than most, with the same sweet molasses flavor from Memphis, but subtle peppercorn notes that give it a unique spin.

What’s Next? 

The thing about BBQ is permeation. It is not one method or flavor but a slowly evolving tradition. BBQ takes its time. Back in prohibition days, when BBQ restaurants first started popping up in Memphis and Kansas City, the idea of alcohol-infused sauces would have gotten some strange looks. If you managed to get your hands on booze, why would you douse a pork shoulder with it? These days -thank the maker- alcohol isn’t as frowned upon, and chefs are finding exciting ways to incorporate it into unique regional flavors. Small batch sauces like a Pale Ale & Mustard Craft BBQ Sauce add a hoppy kick to the traditional Carolina flavors, while a Kentucky Bourbon sauce adds oaky texture to the sweeter side of BBQ. Bourbon and Balsamic Steak Sauce, while not technically BBQ, brings the spirit of the cuisine full circle by creating gourmet flavors at an affordable price point.

Kroger PS Bourbon BBQ Sauce

So at the end of the day, there is no single BBQ experience. There are four regional varieties, with an ever-growing list of sub-categories, but my dad will still call throwing some chicken wings on the grill “having a BBQ.”  The truth is, real BBQ isn’t tied to one meat, flavor, or even method of cooking. What BBQ is really about, is taking the time to appreciate what you’ve got, and getting to try something that could be new, but is always familiar. 

This article was sponsored by Kroger’s Private Selection Brand, who provided us with each of their regional BBQ sauces. Kroger believes that summertime should be simple, and from gourmet ingredients to inspired shortcuts, every Private Selection product is designed to elevate any occasion.

This post was sponsored by:
Kroger’s Private Selection™️

Dad’s Guide to Being the Hero of Your Next Beach Vacation

Kids Running on a beach

Dad doesn’t usually get much credit for planning a family trip, but that’s about to change. We rounded up six fun, unique things to do on The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel that will blow your kiddos’ minds, from kayaking with manatees to pulling sea creatures out of the Gulf of Mexico. Brace for maximum gratitude, and go ahead and pat yourself on the back, dad. 

1.Sanibel Sea School

Whip-smart friendly naturalists introduce kids (ages 4-13) to the Gulf’s ecosystem, literally immersing them in it. You’d never know there was an octopus under that pretty shell – but these guys do, and they’ll plop it right in your kid’s hand! Drop off the youngins for full-day, morning or afternoon courses and enjoy adult time on the beach, or join them for a customized family program.

Sea School
(The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

2.The Butterfly Estates

This cool little conservatory in downtown Fort Myers is home to several species of butterflies native to the area. Walk among fluttering bursts of color and learn about the amazing metamorphosis process in the facility’s breeding room, operated by the nonprofit Florida Native Butterfly Association. Stay for lunch at the adjacent Bullig coffee shop or stroll to one of this vibrant neighborhood’s other eateries.

Butterfly
(The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

3. Seashells and Photos at Bowman’s Beach

There isn’t an ugly square inch on the coast of Sanibel Island, but the pristine and secluded Bowman’s Beach is a gem, and it’s often said to have the best selection of seashells on the island. The absence of crowds or buildings makes this a favorite for local photographers, and it’s a stellar setting for a hired pro to snap family pictures. Just don’t forget anything in your car, as it’s a bit of a trek from the parking lot to the beach, and you know you’ll be the one stuck hiking it back.

Shelling
(The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

4. Haunted History Tour

Once the sun goes down (and you’ve taken in every glorious second, cold one in hand), shepherd the brood to Fort Myers’ historic downtown River District for a 90-minute walking tour through the city’s streets and back alleyways (recommended for kids 12+). The tour gives parents a good feel for the area’s heritage, with just enough paranormal spookiness to keep the tweens interested.

VCB
(The Beaches of Fort Myers &Sanibel)

5. Cabbage Key

While Bowman’s is fairly secluded, if you’re looking for the ultimate in tranquility, take a ferry or charter to Cabbage Key, a beautiful 100-acre island only accessible by boat, and home of the Cabbage Key restaurant, where you can leave your mark with a signed one-dollar bill like so many diners before you. After a delicious meal, walk around the island and discover nature trails (complete with resident gopher tortoises named after the Ninja Turtles) and a lookout tower with stunning views.

Cabbage Key
(The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

6. Kayaking adventures

Rent a kayak and drop into one of the many paddling trails on the Great Calusa Blueway — if you’re lucky, you’ll have an up-close-and-personal visit with local wildlife like dolphins or manatees. These gentle, hulking creatures surround boaters here, and although you’re not allowed to touch them, they have been known to nuzzle a kayak out of curiosity. Yes, you can tell your kids you planned that encounter in advance for them.

Baby Manatee and mom Koreshan State Park Estereo River
(The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

This post was sponsored by:
The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel

The Perfect 72 Hour Beach Vacation

The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel
Family fun during a sunset swim

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that vacations aren’t just for the kids. Yes, they can make a trip, shall we say, difficult, if you don’t keep them occupied. But it’s just as important to plan for you, your partner, and even Gram and Gramps, if they’re in tow. It’s your vacation, too!

With that in mind, we put together a family vacay itinerary on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Three days of fun for kids, in-laws, and most importantly, Dad! We carved out time to relax, play, eat and sip, with something for everyone. Grab your towels and your swimsuits, you’re going to Southwest Florida! 

Day 1: Fort Myers Beach

Spend the morning swimming and relaxing at Bowditch Point Park beach, which features clean facilities, calm waters, and manageable crowds. Fishing is also allowed with a saltwater license (available here).

The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel
Fort Myers Beach is calm, clean and crazy-fun (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

While you’re there, get out on the water with the Pieces of Eight Pirate Cruise, a fun-for-all-ages 90-minute expedition with face painting, dancing, cannons, pirate silliness, and a bar for the grown-ups. Family cruises set sail most days at 11 a.m.

When it’s time for lunch, hop on the trolley and go to Times Square, where you can wander around to grab a bite to eat and venture into a variety of shops. Afterward, take a quick drive south on Estero Island to the Mound House, where you can burn off that beer with a guided kayak or walking tour of the 2,000-year-old Calusa Indian shell mound.

The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel
Times Square has loads of restaurants (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

For dinner, get a table on the upper patio at The Whale and watch the breathtaking sunset over lobster rolls and fish tacos. Not done yet? Head to Zoomers Amusement Park for Go Karts, bumper boats, kiddie rides and an arcade, open ‘til 11 p.m.

Fort Myers Beach Sunset
Sunset over the Fort Myers Beach pier (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

Day 2: Sanibel & Captiva Islands

 Start your second day at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the 7,600-acre home to 51 types of reptiles and amphibians, 32 mammal species and more than 270 kinds of birds. Get there early (the refuge typically opens at 7 a.m.) for optimal wildlife sighting. Take a boat or paddling tour, or just drive or bike the park’s four-mile path.

Ding
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

In fact, all of Sanibel is bicycle friendly, so rent bikes and cruise Periwinkle Way when you’ve had your fill of wildlife. Make time for the cool stops, like Jerry’s Shopping Center (they have parrots that your kids will love chatting with) and Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. And with all that biking, you certainly earned a trip to the nearby Love Boat for ice cream.

 

Biking Family
Family biking around the Sanibel Lighthouse (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

Before you return those cycles, venture over to the end of the road and cruise to the historic Sanibel Lighthouse. You can stroll the beach or even fish at the adjacent pier.

LIghthouse
Sanibel Lighthouse dates back to 1884 (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

Of course, you can’t come to Southwest Florida and not grub on fresh seafood. Make it happen at Gramma Dot’s Seaside Saloon, an easy stop on your way back from the lighthouse. Your stomach won’t be disappointed.

Gamma Dots
Gramma Dot’s Seaside Saloon (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

Ride that sugar high all the way up to Captiva Island for cocktails at the Mucky Duck, where you’ll enjoy one of the most brilliant sunsets in the area.

Sunset
The sunset on Captiva Beach (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

If you and your crew still have energy left, walk over to the Bubble Room for cocktails, dessert (they’re especially known for their cakes, so don’t forget to split a piece at least), live music and their quirky Xmas theme, on display 365 days a year.

Bubble Room
The Bubble Room (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

Day 3: Downtown Fort Myers

Now that you have a nice farmer’s tan going, start your last day in North Fort Myers at Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm with fresh-baked biscuits, house-cured bacon and eggs from chickens you can hear clucking out back. Walk off the big breakfast with a quick stop at Classic Auto Restoration Specialist and browse their collection of antique cars.

Late morning, walk through Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, where you’ll observe wildlife, including birds, turtles, alligators and snakes. Weather not cooperating? Instead, visit the IMAG History & Science Center and its more than 60 interactive exhibits, including interactive touch tanks.

Six Mile Slough
Boardwalk at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

For lunch, Oasis Restaurant in downtown Fort Myers is a local favorite. Afterwards, stretch your legs at Centennial Park and take in views of the Caloosahatchee River. You’ll find playgrounds, walking trails, public art, and occasionally, live music.

Centennial Park
The Uncommon Friends statue in Centennial Park (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

Use the afternoon to get a family-friendly taste of Fort Myers’ booming microbrew scene at the Millennial Brewing Co. Board games, pinball, snacks, space for little ones to run around, and craft beers (as well as a non-alcoholic kombucha) on tap — it’s a one-stop happiness shop.

Millennial Brewing
The Millennial Brewing Company (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

For your final Southwest Florida meal, head to Ember Korean Steakhouse. Along with Korean BBQ, there’s sushi and a solid cocktail menu. Before you go, hit Fort Myers Beach one last time for a sunset at Nervous Nellies, where you can sip a final drink on the patio and feel grateful for that wacky family of yours, and the legendary time you just had with them.

Nervous Nellies
Nervous Nellie’s at night (The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)

 

This post was sponsored by:
The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel

Guy Harvey is Giving Dad Shoes A Run For Their Money

For most of my childhood growing up in Florida the work of Dr. Guy Harvey was basically the only art that I knew existed. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but you would be hard pressed to find a mom-n’-pop restaurant in my home county that doesn’t have one of Harvey’s prints on the wall. And even if you don’t know the name, you probably recognize the style.

Guy Harvey painting of a marlin and a sea turtle
(GuyHarvey.com)

But Guy Harvey is more than just a popular artist. He’s a marine life conservationist and scientist whose environmental work, along with his iconic paintings, have made him a hero for everyone with a soft spot for the sea. For families who fish or sail, his paintings represent a whole lifestyle of easy-going fun. He’s baically to sports fisherman and boating dads what Jimmy Buffet is to day drinkers.

Now Harvey has partnered with Jack Schwartz Shoes Inc to introduce a line of casual footwear featuring the iconic artwork that made him so popular among fishermen and grillmasters a like.

Guy Harvey Shoes
Beauts (Guy Harvey)

“We’re proud to be partnering with JSSI to create comfortable, colorful, quality shoes that can take you from the boat to the beach to the barbecue,” – Dr. Guy Harvey

The Castaway Flyer sandal goes for about 50 bucks, and both the Atlantic and Gulf linen oxfords are $55. Considering that a fresh pair of New Balance will set you back $80, and your wife won’t roll her eyes if you wear these out to dinner, that’s pretty good.

Now, nobody is saying dads should ditch their white sneakers, here. After all, there will always be yard work. These puppies are more for lounging on the deck, or avoiding hearing your wife say “are those really the shoes you’re wearing?” every now and again. 

I kind of expected the shoes to be styled the same way as a lot Guy Harvey merchandise, with his art heavily featured. When he partnered with Norwegien Cruise Lines, the design was front and center, so part of me wondered if the shoes would look kinda like…

Guy Harvey in front of a cruise ship decorated with his artwork.
(Instagram)

But the shoes are actually really clean, simple takes on oxfords and sandals, which was a great way to go. Comfy, but classy, that’s the way dads roll.

For both of the full shoes, the image lives on the insoles, while on the flip-flop — excuse me, I’m from Florida. Ahem. While on the sandal, the art is tastefully printed on the bottom of the sole.

There are other little design touches nodding to Harvey throughout the shoe, like his signature Marlin etched into the sole, and a nautical flag detail. It’s a nice touch for any Captain Dads out there, but also minimalist and clean enough for any landlubbers wardrobe. They even passed the Lego test.

Like walking on air.

Even though they’re reasonably priced, a portion of the profits go to The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation to fund research and education programs aimed at ocean conservation.

The GHOF are global leaders in tagging and tracking sharks and billfish, and their work helps keep the ocean’s ecosystem balanced and safe for future generations to enjoy. The shoes are great, and the cause is even better.

You can get your own pair here.

This post was sponsored by:
JSSI X Guy Harvey

Parenting, Rad Dads, And The Bagel Bites Jingle: A Conversation With Tony Hawk

What were you up to 17 years ago? I was spending inordinate amounts of time eating Bagel Bites and playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 on Nintendo 64. I’d jump from rail to rail, park bench to car to building, constantly on the grind… not literally of course. I was a lazy college student.

The real Tony Hawk was out there grinding for real. And crashing through coffee tables. (This iconic commercial just celebrated its 17th birthday!)

In addition to being the most influential skateboarder ever, Tony is a prolific media and entrepreneurial powerhouse: video game producer, actor (60 IMDB credits, including Sharknado 5!), skateboard emoji adviser, and philanthropist, making a big difference in low-income communities with The Tony Hawk Foundation.

That’s cool, but has he ever turned a Nosebluntslide grind into a McTwist grab while eating a Bagel Bite? Probably. But whatever.

My friends and I idolized Tony growing up. Still do. And he’s been a follower of The Dad for quite some time. As a dad of 6 himself, he’s very much “part of the club.” So it was super cool to catch up with him by phone for a quick chat.


JOEL WILLIS, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF THE DAD: What are you like as a dad? What is your parenting style? Has it changed or evolved over the years?

TONY HAWK: It’s definitely changed. I think I’ve learned to be more effective as I’ve gotten older and through experience. But I think that [all of my kids] are all different obviously. They all have different needs and different kind of attention that they want or require. It’s been fun to see them all develop their own interests. They all are very unique, and my approach is to be supportive of whatever it is they’re getting into.

If they really find their passion, I want them to explore and to have the resources to take it further. I think that’s probably how I’m most effective not just financially but in terms of really giving them the tools and giving them the confidence to go forward in something that maybe is untested. Because that’s exactly what I did as a kid. I started skating and it was the furthest thing from cool you could do. I just kept at it because I loved it. I didn’t know I was going to have any sort of career out of it, and I feel very fortunate that that’s what happened. But at the same time, I want them to have that same desire and passion in their life.

Totally. That’s great. I think anybody in any career or any pursuit can relate to that. I know I do. I used to work in IT, and I was there in what many would call a soul-crushing corporate job. I just like making people laugh and making memes and stuff, and now I get to do cool stuff like talk to you on the phone.

That’s exactly it. You never know where it’s going to take you, and if you embrace the challenges of it, you’ll go further than you ever imagined.

And I think that that lesson is so important for kids, the lesson of doing what you love, but also learning every aspect of it and being up for the challenge if things don’t go the way you expect, because those are probably the moments that are more defining and probably more important.

Exactly. Like that video with your daughter where you were helping her overcome her fear and go down the ramp on the board. So cool.

Oh, thank you. Yeah, I just set my phone in a cup that was nearby. Mostly because I knew that she would want to see it. I knew that if she did it, she was going to be excited about it and maybe not do it again, so I just wanted her to have documentation for herself. And then I thought it was such an interesting experience to see her have that doubt, but then have the confidence to really try it, and I was encouraging but I wasn’t trying to be overbearing or intrusive on her thought process.

So I felt like that was a fun thing to watch unfold, and that’s why I shared it with people.

I think the reason I loved it so much and related to it was your excitement. You were fired up. Amped up for her. Did she feel the same way?

She was very excited. She actually ran back up to do it again, because she didn’t want to lose that confidence that she had. I think that she thought she didn’t do it as well as she could have. So she ran back up and did it again. That particular ramp is actually at my office, so whenever she ends up at my office, her first go-to is to go up there to make sure that she can still do it.

With the Rad Dad Squad, I feel like a “rad dad” to me is when you’re able to get down on your kids’ level and play with them and do the things that they like to do, and love it just as much as they do because they do…

It gives them the self-confidence to keep doing it, and as long as you’re doing it and not being intrusive at the same time, that’s obviously a fine line. But the idea of this whole campaign with the rad dad squad is that we want to recognize those moments and those fathers that are really putting out that effort, and getting into what their kids are doing. Being silly, but also being engaged. I’m sure they do it to very little appreciation. So we want to recognize that.

I relate to that. That’s part of our goals at The Dad to recognize modern, involved dads who are going above and beyond and give them that recognition they may not get otherwise.

Right.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NGUtX_RXq8

A little controversial here, but I want you to rate the Bagel Bites jingle in terms of musical artistry on a scale of 1 to 10.

You mean, “Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at suppertime?”

You got it.

I’m going to give it an 8, just in terms of memorization. And concise, or you know, impact. Effective impact. Because it’s not like you have to sing it all the way through to get there. It’s very to the point. I like that. It’s a concise message.

I consider it a commercial masterpiece. I ask this because in your commercial in 2002, the jingle was different. It was sort of like a hard rock remix. So I want to ask you if you were involved in that decision.

I was not directly involved in that decision, no. But I’m honored that my inclusion changed the vibe enough that I got my own signature version. Signature cover, let’s put it that way.

Yeah. The Tony Hawk remix of the Bagel Bites theme.

Yeah, the punk cover of the Bagel Bites jingle, absolutely. I brought that to the world.


Thanks for the chat, Tony.

If you’re a rad dad, you can chat with him too. 3 winners will be inducted into the Rad Dad Squad later in June and will get to hang with Tony on his skate ramp. Just post a video of your own rad dad moments using #RadDadSquad and #sweepstakes.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta get back to the grind.

A Dumb Guide To Making A Smart Home

HomeAutoFeature2

Look, some dads are tech masters who are always on top of the latest thing, but I just hadn’t thought about home automation before. I had Alexa, and loved it, but I figured smart lights and everything would mean rewiring the whole house. But then I was part a “favorite things” gift exchange and someone gave me a pack of four smart outlets, and it was a huge “Oh, duh” moment.

To have a smart home, you don’t have to reprogram your whole house’s electricity…you just take remote control of an outlet. I downloaded the Smart Life app, plugged in one of the outlets and held down the button until it blinked.

smartoutlet

With my phone connected to the wifi, they synced up and were good to go. I grew up with frustratingly slow tech, and had to deal with computer virus hell in the 90s, so it’s still crazy to me how intuitive and quick most things can work now! I could plug in anything to this outlet: a lamp, the Christmas tree, a surge protector connected to all devices in the room, and control it all from my phone.

Anakin
(GIphy/)

Now, the next phase of any conquest is delegation. I enabled the Smart Life skill in the Alexa app so I could use it to control the smart outlets. Fun Pro tip: You can reprogram Alexa’s response word to be “Computer.” So for a while I could say “Computer, lights” and the lights would go on or off! It was basically like being a starfleet captain all the time. Word of caution though: you say the word “computer” way more often than you think you do. It’ll hear you, man. It’ll hear you.

Of course once I got started, I became hooked. I wanted to connect full rooms and the outdoor lighting. I wanted to control the thermostat and the garage door. I wanted unlimited power! So, my next step was buying several smart switches.

smartswitch

These work the same way the outlets do, but for the internal stuff, and even the nicer ones only run for about $20. They allow voice, remote and timed control of anything that isn’t plugged in – ceiling lighting and fans and so on. I installed them myself, but it’s a little more complicated so no shame in hiring a professional for this part. It was still way easier than the complete rewiring I’d always imagined, and setup with Smart Life was just as easy as the outlets.

Now I have 6 smart outlets and 4 smart switches on the grid. With Alexa, it’s super easy to create groups for different rooms, like: Family Room, Kitchen, Outside, or larger groups like: Whole House.

Alexa Groups

From here, I was basically set to go. Smart Home: Activate! But I tend to dive…deeper.

There’s a section in the app called “Routines,” and it’s key. With it, I schedule all of my groups to turn on and off depending on day and time. For example, the box fans in all our bedrooms (#whitenoise4lyfe) are programmed to turn off, while the lights all turn on just before alarm time every morning. This is usually enough to wake up my kids without an alarm!

 

Alexa Routines

All of the downstairs lights are on when my wife gets up at an ungodly hour for her workout. My outdoor lights turn on and off at the appropriate times. The customization possibilities are awesome. Routines can also be voice-controlled, and you can make your voice commands whatever you want by typing it in the app.

So when I say “Alexa it’s TV time!” she says, “Heck yeah let’s get this party started” and turns on the Family Room.

AlexaCommand

You can also use these routines to mess with your kids. When I ask “Alexa, who is the best?” she responds with “Joel is the best” and that is an airtight argument from an omnipresent computer controlling our entire lives. 

Now I have a Nest thermostat, a Roomba, and a Chamberlain garage door opener, all controllable through Alexa or by a schedule.


I was really impressed by how simple and easy it was to get all this up and running. The big takeaway for me was realizing that having a smart home wasn’t something that’s just for super rich people living in future homes. I know there’s more that could be done, and as prices on the tech come down, I’ll probably automate more stuff. Eventually, I will achieve the ultimate goal of an automated breakfast machine, like from Back to the Future III.

 

 

The Dad loves cool stuff, and we want to share it with you. We are a part of the Amazon Affiliate Program, so we may earn a fee if you buy stuff from links featured here. But this was a true story, and it happened mostly before that whole arrangement, so no bullshit. 

Meal Delivery Done Right

Steak and Shrimp
(Getty/grandriver)

One of my favorite things to do is make a full-tilt, off the rails steak dinner. And I don’t mean just eating it; the whole process of making a big steakhouse-style dinner is like my version of a yoga retreat. It relaxes me, and gives me a sense of satisfaction.

For a while there, making the perfect steak dinner became my great white whale. Every week I’d try a new cut, a new side, and pair them with a different wine. (I’d drink a tall beer while actually grilling, don’t @ me). One week I’d use my cast iron for a strip with grilled asparagus, and the next I’d reverse sear a bone-in ribeye with a side of rosemary potatoes.

This let’s-say-hobby-even-though-it’s-clearly-an-obsession is what turned me on to Omaha Steaks. That’s right, the 90s era business gift of choice is the real deal. Omaha was ahead of the recent meal delivery kit craze by a country mile, and offers way more flexibility than most of the others.

Packages can include a couple steaks for an intimate dinner to a full-on meat locker’s worth of deliciousness. They have steaks, chicken, pork, seafood, plus all kinds of apps and sides, and even wine. Look, I’m in no way knocking local butchers and grocery stores, I still love those guys. But Omaha has bison.

Some people are averse to trying a steak unless they, like, knew the cow personally, and I get it. Fresh is best. But my stepdad loves hunting, and he keeps an entire deer’s worth of venison in his extra freezer all the time. You just have to know how to correctly vacuum seal your food to lock in all the juicy flavor, and the Omaha team are experts. Would they stand behind a 100% satisfaction guarantee if they weren’t?

Plus, for a limited time, members of The Dad club (that’s you!) can try Omaha Steaks and get 45% off plus free shipping!

I can’t tell you the perfect way to grill a steak…that’s a personal discovery everyone has to make for themselves. But if you want to stock up for the adventure, Omaha Steaks has been taking care of grillmasters since 1917.

We love steak, which is why we are happy to be a part of the Omaha Steaks Affiliate Program. We may earn a fee for linking to Omaha Steaks, which we will use to buy more steak.

Oh Crap You Definitely Forgot A Present For Somebody: A Gift Guide

CrapYouForgot
(Walmart)

“It’s too late to post a gift guide,” they said. “Everyone’s already purchased their gifts for the season,” they said.

Oh, what innocent and naive fools they are. This week is the gauntlet that separates dAdS from THE DADS, and we’ve got your back. Whether you still need a gift for your brother, your brother’s kid…or if you put this whole thing off ’till the last minute, haven’t gotten anybody anything, and think it might be easier at this point to just get in your car and start driving…we’re here to help you be a holiday hero.

So keep your head on a swivel, and let’s do this while there is still time for 2-day shipping.

Stuff for Grownups

A FREAKIN’ SUPER NINTENDO

Super Nintendo
(Walmart)

That’s right, it’s back baby! The kids can keep their Switches and their VR nausea machines, this is where the action is. It comes with 21 classic games pre-loaded. Hey, just because you grow up doesn’t mean you have to start doing boring presents.

The indoor fryer

Fryer
(Walmart)

But what if fried food…was good for you? Okay, it may not be 100% healthy, but by using less oil to achieve golden crunchy perfection, this indoor fryer gives you all the flavor at a fraction of the cholesterol.

A hot sauce starter set

Hot Sauce
(Walmart)

What’s great about a hot sauce collection is that it’s a perfect gift for both someone you love and someone you can’t stand, depending on their tastebuds and how susceptible they are to a challenge.

This game where you chill out with Bob Ross

BobRoss
(Walmart)

In this game you earn “chill points” by faux painting happy little trees and other Ross-isms, in what is technically a competition but also probably a dose of therapy. Our favorite review: “Who is Bob Ross?!….4 Stars!”

Stuff For Kids

The LOL Surprise House with 85+ surprises 

LOL Surprise House
(Walmart)

What are the surprises? What are LOL Surprise Dolls? In a world where babies run everything, why is there a helipad on the roof? SOMEONE EXPLAIN THIS WORLD. Regardless of it making any sense or not, this mega gift is made from real wood and has a working elevator, so dad hats off to craftsmanship.

Laser Tag!

Laser Tag
(Walmart)

Ah, laser tag. Just like a video game, but outside!

The Fingerlings and their sinister Phase 2

Fingerlings2
(Walmart)

If we know anything, it’s that when a creature starts out small and adorable, it’s only a matter of time before it grows smarter, faster, and bigger in an attempt to take over the world. The Fingerlings may have started as cute finger pets, but the new hug-sized line proves that was only the beginning.

Baby’s First Microscope

Microscope
(Walmart)

This isn’t Hadron Collider level tech by any means, but if you know a kid with a curious mind, earn serious points for encouraging them to stretch that muscle. Even if they end up playing scientist more than doing any science, a half toy/half tool gift like this is cool af.

Catan For Kids

Catan Jr
(Catan)

Beating kids at Monopoly is fun only so many times.  Make sure your game nights stay ahead of the curve by prepping kids for the big leagues early. Our only problem with Catan Jr. is that we could have used the training wheels when we learned the original game ourselves. Where were you, Catan Jr?

Web Shooters. WEB SHOOTERS

WebShooters
(Walmart)

“OH, HELL YES!” any kid would be right to shout after unwrapping Spidey’s web shooters. And then you can punish them for swearing so you can play with it yourself. #DadHacks

The Ridiculous Gift You Could Never Buy For Yourself, But Looks Like It’s For Kids So You Can Maybe Get Away With It If You Play It Right

The Lego Millennium Falcon

LegoFalcon
(Walmart)

Of course this is for the kids…they’re just not allowed to touch it.

Those are our picks, and your holiday is saved! Of course, you’ll still have to wrap…

We participate in the Walmart Affiliate Program, and may earn fees by linking to Walmart.com. Because who doesn’t want to pick up some extra cash around the holidays?

Man-Cave Candles To Feel Like A Pirate Or Race Car Driver Or Whatever Your Thing Is

Candle Feature

Are you man enough to fill your home with some gentle aromas? Do you have what it takes to confidently strike a match, and set it to a wick without burning your finger a little bit? Can you handle watching the wax slowly melt away, and using that imagery to cope with your own daily stress and anxieties?

Maybe you don’t think candles are for you, eh? Well it’s possible you just haven’t found the right kind. Check out our favorite Man-Cave mood setters, but be warned: You may find the power of scents-memory will transport you back to those days on untamed sea, wrestling with demons both inside and out.

The smell of hard work and the past 

DarkRum
(Amazon)
These candles understand the indisputable fact that some sort of booze + some sort of plant makes for a perfect smell. Dark Rum & Oak, Whiskey & Tobacco -or if you’re kinda weird- Absinthe & Black Fig are great scents that suggest you are secretly a Colonial Era blacksmith-turned-spy for the Revolution.

 

Tiny campfires to remind you of real campfires

Campfire
(Amazon)

By taming the fierce element of fire, mankind claimed dominion over the Earth. Now relish in that ultimate power with a little tiny fire in a cup. With a wooden wick to create authentic crackling, this is perfect for the dad who wants to enjoy taking their kids camping, but doesn’t want to listen to their kids complain about camping.

Mmmmm. Musk. 

FreshShaveCandle
(Walmart)

Personal grooming: Not always in the cards for a modern dad. But the refreshing aromas of cedar and musk can still be a part of your daily routine. Why musk is  a refreshing smell, we’re not sure. Just one of life’s mysteries. It’s the kind of thing you ponder while shaving, or now, sitting in a chair with a candle burning.

Vroom-Vroom Wax

ManCandles
(Walmart)

Are you a grease monkey? Well gear up with candles that say “everyone else is unwelcome in this room.”

Still not convinced a candle is for you? If you are intrigued by enticing aromas, but prefer a bigger canvas, then we hope for your sake the KFC Herbs & Spices Firelogs will be back in stock sometime soon. Meanwhile we’ll be burning the candle on both ends, because we’re cool with candles that way.

ChickenLog
(KFC)
We participate in the Walmart and Amazon Affiliate Programs. We may earn a small fee by linking to Walmart.com & Amazon.com. Unfortunately we could not find a capitalism-scented candle for this article.