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Mohegans, BBQ master to roll out line of barbecue pellets

Mohegan — Where there’s smoke, there might be barbecue. And, increasingly, it might have a southeastern Connecticut flavor.

The Mohegan Holding Co., the Mohegan Tribe’s nongaming business arm, has announced it will partner with celebrity chef Myron Mixon, by many accounts “the winningest man in competitive BBQ,” to produce a branded line of wood pellets for barbecue pits and grills.

Presumably, the pellets will work just fine in the Myron Mixon Smokers that are made to order on Cross Road in Waterford, where Mixon and Rob Marelli Jr., president of Seconn Fabrication, struck up a friendship and then a deal several years ago.

Myron Mixon BBQ Pellets will be manufactured by Mohegan Holding’s Northeast Wood Products, a subsidiary that jumped into the home-heating business with the purchase in 2014 of wood-pellet plants in Ohio and Indiana. Northeast acquired a third plant, in Tennessee, in 2015.

Northeast annually produces more than 250,000 tons of home-heating pellets, the company says.

The Mixon-branded barbecue pellets are expected to be introduced at the Memphis in May International Festival, where the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest will be celebrating its 40-year anniversary. The pellets will be available to consumers shortly thereafter.

“As part of our ongoing expansion efforts outside the gaming industry, the Mohegan Tribe has aligned with several best-in-class brands,” Kevin Brown, the Mohegan tribal chairman, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Myron Mixon is no exception, and we are honored that he has chosen our own Northeast Wood Products to bring his barbecue pellets to the retail market.”

Mixon, who appeared last June at the Sun BBQ Fest at Mohegan Sun, describes the latest product that will bear his name as "organic, pure wood pellets, harvested and made here in the United States.” He promises they will contain no artificial flavoring, chemicals, or ingredients.

"BBQ is at heart, a family tradition. For us, there is no purer form of cooking — you have your meat, smoke, family and friends — it's that simple," Mixon said. "Therefore, the quality of the smoker you're using and the wood you're burning are the two most important ingredients in any recipe."

The Marelli-Mixon partnership grew out of a friendship that began when Marelli persuaded Mixon, who appears as a judge on the reality TV show “BBQ Pitmasters,” to cater a backyard party Marelli hosted in 2010. Marelli invited Mixon back to cook for a second party a couple of years later — and the two got to talking.

They launched Myron Mixon Smokers in January 2013.

Marelli called the Mixon-Mohegan Holdings collaboration “a natural fit” he was honored to help facilitate.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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