Evolution of BBQ in America

Evolution of BBQ

Todays American Barbecue is a culmination of ideas, techniques, cultures, and technology. From brand names like Knotty Wood BBQ, to Weber, Traeger, Green Egg, Pit Boss, Kingsford, these brands are synonymous with charcoal grilling, pellet smokers, and kamado smokers that are the most popular style in America today. This evolution of BBQ has been in cooking methods to technology advances such as the pellet grill/smoker to charcoals, and wood burning methods have empowered folks to push BBQ to new levels.

BBQ is so loved that we have Podcasts dedicated to BBQ such as The BBQ Beat Podcast and Kevin’s BBQ Joints Podcast. From out of the smoke, celebrities have risen such as Aaron Franklin, Melissa Cookston, John Mueller, Johnny Trigg, Moe Cason, Malcolm Reed and Danielle Bennett (Diva Q) that have been featured on shows such as BBQ Pitmasters, BBQ Brawl, and BBQ Pit Wars. These all are a testament to American BBQ.

This has become an American past time from the back yard BBQ to outdoor sports, Hunting, Fishing, to tailgating parties, weddings, fundraisers, NASCAR, we Americans love our BBQ, and any excuse to cook meats like Pork, Beef, chicken, Lamb, seafoods, we are all in in America.

How did we get to BBQ in America? Well, the short version is, when Columbus was settling here, the folks he brought from the Caribbean cooked their meats over a slower and lower heat. This was called Barbacoa and was quickly adopted. The English settlers started using vinegar to baste with to hold the natural moisture and flavor of the meats in. This was of course done with Pork, as pigs were the cheapest and fastest BBQ meat as they converted to proteins cheap and fast with high birth rates and up to three litters a year.

It is said that people ate 5 pounds of pork to every pound of beef back in the day. Then during the American revolution farms were ravaged and the animals were set free to roam.

This is where low and slow cooking method became real! Feral animals were leaner and tougher meat, so cooking them slowly under low heat tenderized the meat and made it much tastier and easier to eat. Given the toughness of the wild animals and dental hygiene of those days, tender low and slow meats were just what the people needed and loved.

Southern vinegar-based sauces were quickly modified in the Kansas City area as railroads were developed and brought in cheap and abundant commodities such as tomato sauces and molasses. So sweet BBQ vinegar sauces were all the rage back then, and still are today.

As time went on, BBQ was then taken to cattle in Texas. Soon it was the fast food of the 1800’s and early 1900’s so much so, that McDonald’s even offered BBQ in its early days.

Today, the BBQ industry is alive and well with all sorts of new ideas and styles that we all enjoy and love in America. Just like the USA, BBQ is uniquely American in that it is a melting pot of cultures, ideas, and experiments that the world loves and benefits from.

Happy BBQ’ing and as always make your BBQ Knotty with a happy ending!

Evolution of BBQ


Cheers, Spencer Defty

Founder Knotty Wood BBQ Company.

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