So I had to bite the bullet.
I got the lump, and was satisfied with the burn. When my smoker had cooled, I went to go clean out the basket, and found this:
Yes, folks, that IS a piece of METAL!!!
Thankfully, I didn't have any meat on the smoker when this happened. So I sent Cowboy an email about it, letting them know how upset I was:
Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2011 21:14:51 -0500
To whom it may concern:
I purchased a bag of your Cowboy Lump Hardwood Charcoal about a month ago. I got it from a local vendor here. The bag was not damaged, and it was full of very large pieces of lump.
I reviewed your lump charcoal on a website that specializes in lump charcoal. I saw that it was rated average at best, but I still decided to try the lump since the review was very old.
I did a burn on some of your lump today, and found a piece of METAL IN THE LUMP.
I am very concerned about this, and would like to know what you are doing to resolve this? The review on the website I read was a couple of years old, but it seemed that they had the EXACT SAME ISSUE back in 2007 with your charcoal.
Very Irate and Angry,
P.S. - I will be sending you photos of the piece of metal I found in my bag of charcoal. This is very VERY UNACCEPTABLE!!!
So then, I waited for a response. A few days went by, and I got nothing. So I sent this:
Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2011 11:05 AM
Subject: RE: COMPLAINT!!!
I still have as of yet to receive any kind of a correspondence from you about the foreign matter I found in the bag of Cowboy Charcoal. I am awaiting a response to my inquiry.
The next day, I got this back in return:
Subject: RE: COMPLAINT!!!
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2011 07:45:46 -0500
We apologize for your poor experience with our product. Please know that no metal should ever be in a bag of our charcoal. This is something that we will immediately address with our production staff at our plant.
Please send me your address so we can send you a $20 rebate check for your troubles.
Once again, please accept our apology.
I'll let you all know if I get the twenty bucks. All I'm going to do is spend it on some Fire King. That piece of metal could have poisoned me and my family.
I never received a check from this company. Since then, my quest for the best lump to use has been completed as I found Firecraft.com sells Ozark Oak. I ordered two bags for about the price I paid for two bags of Fire King here in Omaha. This past weekend was Easter, and I started an Overnight cook of Brisket for Easter dinner on Sunday, and was highly impressed and satisfied with the Ozark Oak, and will continue to order from Firecraft until I find somewhere more local....that sells Ozark Oak.