If the mouthwatering aromas wafting down the street haven’t told you, we will; May 16th is National Barbecue Day!
The purist in the world of barbecue either uses charcoal, wood, or gas and slow cooks the protein over indirect heat. While the type of protein and seasonings vary, each part of the country specializes in their own flavors and sauces.
- More tangy BBQ with a vinegar base can be found in North Carolina. South Carolina leans toward a sweeter sauce. The sauce can be applied thick or thin, giving it more of a glaze. Turn up the heat by adding spices and peppers. Smoking meat is another way to add flavor and tenderness, too.
- The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first recorded use of the word Barbecue in the English language in 1697 by the British buccaneer William Dampier.
- While the standard modern English spelling of the word is barbecue, local variations like barbeque and truncations such as bar-b-q or bbq may also be found.
- In the southeastern United States, the word barbecue is used predominantly as a noun referring to roast pork, while in the southwestern states; cuts of beef are often cooked.
- There is no definitive history of how the word “barbecue” originated – or why it’s sometimes used as a noun, verb, or adjective.
- Some say the Spaniards get the credit for the word, derived from their “barbacoa” which is an American-Indian word for the framework of green wood on which foods were placed for cooking over hot coals.
- Others think the French were responsible, offering the explanation that when the Caribbean pirates arrived on our Southern shores, they cooked animals on a spit-like devise that ran from “whiskers to tail” or “de barbe a` queue.”
- Barbecues have been a White House tradition since Thomas Jefferson. Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, hosted the first barbecue at the White House that featured Texas-style barbecued ribs.
- The most popular holidays for barbecuing are, in order, July 4th (71 percent), Memorial Day (57 percent), and Labor Day (55 percent).
- The most popular foods for cooking on the grill are, in order: burgers (85 percent), steak (80 percent), hot dogs (79 percent) and chicken (73 percent).
- The most popular barbecue utensils are long-handled tongs (77 percent), followed by forks (64 percent), long handled spatulas (59 percent), and then grill cleaning brushes (63 percent).
- Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer of Pennsylvania patented a design for charcoal briquettes in 1897. After World War I, the Zwoyer Fuel Company built charcoal briquette manufacturing plants in the United States with plants in Buffalo, NY and Fall River, MA.
- The first commercial charcoal briquet factory was designed by Thomas Edison and built by Henry Ford in 1921.
- Competition barbecuing is one of the hottest hobbies in the country with hundreds of cook-offs held throughout all 50 states. The biggest and most famous are Memphis in May and The American Royal in Kansas City. Both cities stake their claim to being the barbecue capital of the US.
- Around one million years ago Homo erectus, the hominid just before Neanderthal man, first tasted cooked meat.
- In 2007 Israeli scientists at the University of Haifa uncovered evidence that early humans living in the area around Carmel, about 200,000 years ago were serious about barbecue.
- Food historians claim that the first mention of barbecue in the United States is in colonial Virginia where a law forbade the shooting of firearms at a barbecue.
- U.S. presidents were known to be big fans of the laid-back pastime. George Washington‘s diaries abound with references to barbecues, including one that lasted for three days. When Abraham Lincoln‘s parents were married, their wedding feast was a barbecue.
- Barbecue competitions have been taking place since at least 1959. The first one seems to have taken place in Hawaii just a few months after it became a state, and was only for men. Twenty-five men entered the cook-off, competing for the grand prize of $10,000 (about $80,000 today).