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The Daily Meal's Ultimate BBQ Road Trip Sweepstakes

The Daily Meal's Ultimate BBQ Road Trip Sweepstakes

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Barbecue lovers and pitmasters, want a chance to win two VIF (Very Important Foodie) all-access passes to the World Food Championships from Nov. 1 to Nov. 4 in Las Vegas? The VIF passes include access to the Final Table Showdown that occurs in front of Caesars, where the champions will hoist the WFC trophy.

See The Ultimate BBQ Road Trip

Enter The Daily Meal's Ultimate BBQ Road Trip Sweepstakes for a chance to win two all-access passes to the World Food Championships from Nov. 4 in Las Vegas, plus a three-night hotel stay at a Caesars Entertainment hotel in Las Vegas. Sweepstakes ends Oct. 17, 2012 so get on board.


There are three (3) ways to enter. Select the method that works best for you — or choose all three — for additional chances to win.

1. Follow The Daily Meal on Pinterest and pin your favorite barbecue photo — a portrait of a pitmaster or barbecue joint, a succulent food photo of delicious 'cue, a look at your own barbecue rig, anything that you think says "barbecue" — with the hashtag #BBQRoadtrip to Pinterest.


2. Download The Daily Meal's Best Dishes App for your iPhone, then upload a picture of your favorite barbecue specialty, from beans to brisket, from a barbecue place you love. If you don't have an iPhone, set up a free The Daily Meal user profile, then upload a picture of your favorite barbecue here.


3. Mail a photo along with a caption and your name, address, and email address to Spanfeller Media Group, Attention: Ultimate BBQ Road Trip, 156 5th Avenue, 4th Floor, New York, New York, 10010.

Get updates on The Daily Meal’s Twitter page @thedailymeal and on Lauren Mack's Twitter page @lmack.

TheDailyMeal Ultimate BBQ Road Trip Sweepstakes



1. How to Enter: The Daily Meal Ultimate BBQ Road Trip Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) begins at. 6:00 PM EST (Eastern Time (“EST”) on October 1, 2012 and ends at 6:00 PM EST on October 17, 2012 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). To Enter: Follow The Daily Meal on Pinterest ( and pin entrant’s favorite barbecue picture with the hashtag #BBQRoadtrip to Pinterest (“Web Site”); during the Sweepstakes period to be automatically entered. Online Entries must be received by 6:00 PM EST on October 17, 2012. Alternate means of entry: Entrants may also download The Daily Meal’s Best Dishes App ( ) and upload a picture of entrant’s favorite barbecue or set up a free The Daily Meal user profile and uploading a picture of entrant’s favorite barbecue on The Daily Meal’s Web Site ( Entrants may also mail a photo along with their name, email, and address to Spanfeller Media Group, Attention: Ultimate BBQ Road Trip, 156 5th Avenue, 4th Floor, New York, New York, 10010. The Daily, Inc. (“Sponsor”) will not verify receipt of entries. All entries submitted become the sole property of the Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. The Sweepstakes is governed by OurSite’s privacy policy, which is available on the Web Site.

All Pinterest Entries (“Entries”) become the property of Sponsors and will not be acknowledged. Entries generated by a script, macro, or other automated means will be disqualified. Entries that are incomplete, garbled, corrupted, or unintelligible for any reason, including, but not limited to, computer or network malfunction or congestion, are void and will not be accepted. In case of a dispute over the identity of an entrant who made a potentially winning entry, Sponsors reserve the right to deem that the entry was made by the registered subscriber of the email address submitted at the time of entry. Entry constitutes permission (except where prohibited by law) to use entrant’s name, city, state, likeness, image, and/or voice for purposes of advertising, promotion, and publicity in any and all media now or hereafter known, throughout the world in perpetuity, without additional compensation, notification, permission, or approval.

2. Eligibility: To enter the Sweepstakes you must be a lawful permanent resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia and be 21 years of age or older as of October 1, 2012. Sweepstakes is void outside of the 50 United States (and the District of Columbia), in Puerto Rico, U.S. territories, possessions and commonwealths, and where restricted or prohibited by law. The Sweepstakes, and any web site pages and advertisements relating thereto, is intended for viewing only within the United States. You are not authorized to participate in the Sweepstakes if you are not located within the United States. Employees of Sponsor and other participating partners, their affiliated companies, parents, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, (collectively, “Sweepstakes Entities”), and their immediate families and members of their households, are ineligible to participate in this Sweepstakes.

3. Drawing and Notification: The Grand Prize Winner(s) will be selected from all eligible entries received in a random drawing held on or about October 22, 2012 by Sponsor, whose decisions are final and binding in all respects. Odds of winning a prize depends upon the number of eligible entries received. The potential Winner will be notified by email, mail and/or via a comment on the winning Pinterest "Pin" within approximately fourteen (14) days of the drawing. If a potential winner cannot be reached within seven (7) calendar days from the first notification attempt, then such person shall be disqualified and an alternate winner will be selected.

4. Prizes: Two (2) VIF (Very Important Foodie) All Access Passes to the World Food Championships hosted by Adam Richman November 1, 2012 to November 4, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada plus a Three (3) night stay at a Caesar’s Entertainment Hotel of the Sponsor’s Choice in Las Vegas. Approximate retail value of the Grand Prize is $1,877. Sponsor reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value if the Grand Prize cannot be awarded as described for any reason. Taxes, gratuities, travel to and from the event and other expenses not specifically identified in these Official Rules are the sole responsibilities of the Grand Prize Winner. No transfer or substitution for the prize allowed except at Sponsor’s sole discretion

5. Prize Conditions: Prize Winners will be required to execute an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability Release and a Publicity Release (“Affidavit/Release”). Such documents must be returned by the date and/or time indicated within such documents. If the potential Prize Winners fail to return such documents within that time, or if an entrant is found to be ineligible, or if he/she does not comply with the Official Rules, then the potential prize winner will be disqualified and an alternate winner will be selected. If prize notification is returned as undeliverable, this will result in disqualification and an alternate winner will be selected. All federal, state or other tax liabilities (including income taxes) arising from this Sweepstakes will be the sole responsibility of the Prize Winners. Except where prohibited by law, the Prize Winners’ entry and acceptance of the Prize constitutes permission for the Sweepstakes Entities to use said prize winners’ names, photographs, likeness, statements, biographical information, voice, and city and state address on a worldwide basis, and in all forms of media, in perpetuity, without further compensation.

6. Sweepstakes Conditions: This Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which shall be final and waive any right to claim ambiguity in the Sweepstakes or these Official Rules. The Prize Winners and entrants also agree to release, discharge, indemnify and hold harmless the Sweepstakes Entities and each of their respective officers, directors, employees, representatives and agents from and against any claims, damages or liability due to any injuries, damages or losses to any person (including personal injury or death) or property of any kind resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from acceptance, possession, misuse or use of the respective prize or participation in any Sweepstakes-related activity or participation in this Sweepstakes, or any claims based on rights of publicity, rights of privacy and/or merchandise delivery.

7. Limitations of Liability: In case of dispute as to the identity of any entrant, entry will be declared made by the authorized account holder of the email address submitted at time of entry. “Authorized Account Holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned an email address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization (e.g., business, educational, institution, etc.) responsible for assigning email addresses or the domain associated with the submitted email address. Any potential prize winner may be requested to provide Sponsor with proof that such winner is the authorized account holder of the email address associated with the winning entry. Sweepstakes Entities are not responsible for lost, late, misdirected, undeliverable or incomplete Online Entries due to system errors or failures, or faulty transmissions or other telecommunications malfunctions and/or Online Entries not received resulting from any hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed, incomplete or garbled computer or telephone transmissions, typographical or system errors and failures, or faulty transmissions, or for any problems or technical malfunctions. Sponsor may prohibit an entrant from participating in the Sweepstakes or winning a prize if, in its sole discretion, it determines that said entrant is attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of the Sweepstakes by cheating, hacking, deception, or other unfair playing practices (including the use of automated quick entry programs) or intending to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other entrants or Sponsor representatives. If for any reason this Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned, including, but not limited to, infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud or any other causes beyond the reasonable control of Sponsor which corrupt in any way or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, fulfillment or proper conduct of the promotion, then Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes and select a winner by randomly drawing from those entries received up to the cancellation/suspension date. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE THE WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE SWEEPSTAKES MAY BE IN VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK REMEDIES AND DAMAGES (INCLUDING ATTORNEY’S FEES) FROM ANY SUCH ENTRANT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW, INCLUDING CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.

8. Sponsor:, 156 Fifth Avenue, 4th, Floor, New York, NY 10010. This Sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Pinterest. Entrants are providing information to Sponsors and not to Pinterest.

9. Winners List: For the names of the winners (available after October 22, 2012), send a self- addressed stamped envelope to: Spanfeller Media Group, Attention: Winners List, 156 5th Avenue, 4th Floor, New York, New York, 10010.

The Evolution of American Barbecue

Related Content

A Southern Barbecue, a wood engraving from a sketch by Horace Bradley, published in Harper’s Weekly, July 1887.

If any gastronomical treat could give the proverbially American apple pie a run for its money, it might just be barbecue. The culinary tradition of cooking meat low and slow over indirect flame (the true definition of barbecue – imposters who grill, take note) has become so prevalent over the years that BBQ itself represents a sort of pop culture, spawning TV shows, historically-focused road trips, and even fusion dishes like BBQ tacos. Barbecue’s ability to reflect whatever might be hot at the time (from reality TV to the taco craze) isn’t new in fact, barbecue has a long history of permeation, perhaps best experienced by the ongoing barbecue feud that plagues the South. From the Atlantic to the Gulf, bordered by the western outposts of Texas and Kansas City, the area of the United States known as the “barbecue belt” houses four distinct barbecue traditions – Carolina, Texas, Memphis and Kansas City. From where did these traditions come, and how, in a relatively small region of the country, have they evolved along such different paths? The history of American barbecue is as diverse as the variations themselves, charting the path of a Caribbean cooking style brought north by Spanish conquistadors, moved westward by settlers, and seasoned with the flavors of European cultures.

The first indigenous tribes Christopher Columbus encountered on the island he named Hispaniola had developed a unique method for cooking meat over an indirect flame, created using green wood to keep the food (and wood) from burning. Reports indicate that the Spanish referred to this new style of cooking as barbacoa: the original barbecue. As the Spanish explorers who followed Columbus turned their expeditions north, they brought the cooking technique with them. In 1540, close to present-day Tupelo, Mississippi, the Chicksaw tribe, in the presence of explorer Hernando de Soto, cooked a feast of pork over the barbacoa. Eventually, the technique made its way to the colonies, traveling as far north as Virginia.

Barbecue belt residents would argue that the beef-based BBQ of Texas, or the mutton-based BBQ found in Kentucky, doesn’t constitute authentic barbecue. To be real barbecue, purists like North Carolina native Jim Villas (author of an article, first published in Esquire, aptly titled “My Pig Beats Your Cow”) argue that  the meat must be exclusively porcine, because the original BBQ-ers of the southern colonies depended on the cheap, low-maintenance nature of pig farming. Unlike cows, which required large amounts of feed and enclosed spaces, pigs could be set loose in forests to eat when food supplies were running low. The pigs, left to fend for themselves in the wild, were much leaner upon slaughter, leading Southerns to use the slow-and-low nature of barbecue to tenderize the meat. And use it they did. During the pre-Civil War years, Southerners ate an average of five pounds of pork for every one pound of cattle. Their dependence on this cheap food supply eventually became a point of patriotism, and Southerners took greater care raising their pigs, refusing to export their meat to the northern states. By this time, however, the relationship between the barbecue and pork had been deeply forged.

But the story of the South’s penchant for pork does little to explain the variations between their barbecue styles. For this, one must look beyond the borders of America, to the influence that colonial immigrants had on the flavor and preparation of the meat. The original styles of barbecue are thought to be those that originated in the easternmost colonies, like the vinegar-based “whole hog” barbecue found in Virginia and North Carolina. The technique of adding sauce to the meat as it cooks came from British colonists who incorporated the idea of basting to preserve the juices within the meat with the Caribbean barbecue technique. North Carolina’s vinegar-based sauces are also a remnant of these Briton’s penchant for the tart sauce. In South Carolina, which housed a large population of French and German immigrants, a mustard-based sauce was born, again, a reflection of the immigrant populations’ traditional preferences. Mustard has long been a fixture in both country’s cuisines: think of the famous Dijon in France (used in everything from tarte aux moutarde to the omnipresent bistro salad dressing) or the German’s penchant for including sweet and spicy mustard alongside their favorite wursts.

From Carolina barbecue, the trend moved westward, eventually entering Texas. German immigrants in Texas had the land to cultivate cattle, and it wasn’t long before Texans were applying Carolina techniques to a different sort of animal entirely. In Memphis, the regionally unique sweet, tomato-based barbecue sauce was born from the city’s status as a popular port along the Mississippi River. Memphis residents could easily obtain a variety of goods, including molasses, which provided the region’s sweet barbecue taste. Out of Memphis’ barbecue genes, the last of America’s four main barbecue styles – Kansas City barbecue – was born. In the early 1900s, a Memphis-born man by the name of Henry Perry settled in Kansas City and opened a barbecue restaurant. In the restaurant, which Doug Worgul, in his book on the history of Kansas City barbecue, credits as the origin of the city’s particular barbecue style, Perry followed the style of his Memphis roots, using a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce. He did not, however, adhere to the stringent requirements that called for a pork-only barbecue style, and allowed beef and other meats to be sold as well. Expert Dotty Griffith refers to Kansas City barbecue as the ultimate amalgamation of East and West (Texas) barbecue.

But history can only go so far to explain the pleasure that occurs when meat hits smoke (and sometimes sauce). Barbecue lovers looking to savor the distinct flavors of America’s four barbecue styles aren’t alone in fact, the siren call of the barbecue belt has caused many to make a pilgrimage to the region. Travel routes have been suggested for aficionados looking to chow down on meat cooked low-and-slow, but for those really looking to expand their barbecue knowledge, check out the Daily Meal’s recently published 2013 guide to the “Ultimate BBQ Road Trip,” which spans over 5,120 miles and includes 60 of the country’s best examples of barbecue.

New England And The East Coast

The barbecue scene in the Upper East Coast may be relatively new compared to the rest of the country, but they’ve lost no time when it comes to establishing a reputation that goes toe-to-toe with the “barbecue belt.” The results? 13 states where local pitmasters are treating spare ribs and coleslaw with the same attention as their neighbors to the south — creating drool-worthy, mouthwatering barbecue stops well worth the drive.


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Last week, my boyfriend Tim at the Daily Meal (we've actually never met) sent me an email (went to spam box first) about an Ultimate BBQ Road Trip. His greeting started with "Exciting news . " about their "explicitly mouthwatering lineup of Barbecue restaurants across the southern United States. "

I pulled up the article, curious which local barbecue spot is on their omnivorous road trip.

Turns out, we're part of the road trip, but only in passing. The map takes barbecue junkies through the Dallas area, but doesn't suggest they actually stop anywhere to eat.

In brief, here's my email back to Tim:

Tim. There's a hole in your plan. You flew right through Dallas. It would have been a great article for my Dallas audience if you stopped here. But this BBQ road trip as it stands now is nothing but fightin' words.

Maybe Smoke or Pecan Lodge?

I'm sorry, Tim. We have to break up. Because your map hurts.

Thanks, though. It was real.

Sincerely, Lauren Drewes Daniels

PS Huntsville?

With that email, I included a link to a review of Pecan Lodge penned by Daniel Vaughn, The BBQ Snob.

Go figure, Tim was devastated.

You broke my heart, Lauren. You just pulled it apart like pork.

I have forwarded to the editor and let her know that Dallas ain't happy.

Thanks for the suggested restaurants -- I'll make sure our regional correspondent is in the know.

Cheers, Tim

By this time, I was colluding with Vaughn. I wrote to him about the slap in the face courtesy of The Daily Meal.

Also, know that I have Daniel Vaughn on my side. Anthony Bourdain anointed him as "the barbecue Yoda." I don't know who you have in your corner, but I sense you brought a cute baby duck to a back alley chicken fight.

I sent him your list. He said overall it ain't bad, but the road trip has a five-hour haul between Davis, Oklahoma, and Taylor, Texas, with nary a stop for smoked brisket or ribs.

Vaughn says you need to add Pecan Lodge, and we agree (me and my fightin' chicken).


I'll await your update.

Vaughn followed up with an email of his own to Tim.


Lauren speaks the truth. I love Taylor Cafe (not Taylor's) and Smokin' Joe's in Davis, but leaving off Dallas in between the two is a tragedy. I've been to all the Texas joints on your list and Pecan Lodge is right there with the best (and appx. 58 times better than the once-great-now-laughable Church of the Holy Smoke). I've attached a few photos of their meat to hasten your reconsideration.

Daniel Vaughn

Vaughn included this picture, because he's bad ass like that.

But, they just wouldn't listen.

Thank you both for all your enthusiastic feedback! [I hate exclamation points used disguise a letdown.] I'm sure it will leave an impact on our editors and contributors for every barbecue feature that lies ahead. [Whatevs.] I don't think a greater case for Pecan Lodge has ever been made. [It's not a "case," it's a "truth."] For now, the author of the piece has opted to leave her choices intact, but does send her sincere gratitude. [As sincere as her commitment to send people to Huntsville?] Daniel, we owe you a special thanks for those outstanding photos. It made our day.

Thanks again!! [I actually hate all exclamations points except to emphasize a curse word.]


I feel like a tool. We're never ever ever getting back together, Tim. The roadtrip hits the highlight reel in Central Texas, but there's some hot air and, unfortunately, it ain't smoke coming from Pecan Lodge.

But, honestly, isn't that the fun of any list? Arguing about what we think should and shouldn't be on it? The BBQ Snob and I gave it our best shot.

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Kingsford factory tour: How charcoal is made

Given the increase in grilling "backyarders" and television usurping regional barbecue restaurant stars into nationally known faces with professional tours all over the country, it is no surprise that the charcoal briquette itself is also having its time in the sun. And nowhere does the sun shine brighter (along with the help of a lot of wood scrap and fire) than in Belle, Mo., the location of the Kingsford charcoal factory and the Kingsford Invitational barbecue contest. The Daily Meal, fresh off its Ultimate BBQ Road Trip, took a tour of the charcoal factory to see the journey of charcoal from wood to grill.

While the charcoal-making process is usually kept under wraps, the Kingsford factory in Belle, Mo., sometimes offers tours, including to local elementary school children. When visitors first arrive at the factory, they come to a dead-end road and see a looming khaki mountain that looks inviting for climbing. But upon closer scrutiny is the realization that no mountain could be this tan. It's not really a mountain at all it is a giant pile of the wood scrap that gets fed into the Kingsford furnaces, which burn 550 to 600 tons a day and 200,000 tons of wood a year. There are five Kingsford factories in the U.S., each burning about the same amount, meaning about 1 million tons of wood scrap are turned into charcoal briquettes in Kingsford factories across the country each year.

Charcoal has certainly come a long way since cavemen used it to write on walls. The etymology of the word charcoal is from the Old English charren, "to turn," plus cole, "coal" hence, charcoal, "to turn to coal."

In the 1920s, Henry Ford developed a process for using wood scraps from his Model T's, which were in fact made of wood, to popularize briquettes (spelled briquet on the Kingsford bags). Briquettes, however, were first patented by Ellsworth B.A. Zwoyer in 1897. Kingsford was originally called Ford Charcoal, and E.G. Kingsford, Ford's brother-in-law, helped broker the location for first factory, which was later renamed in his honor. Since Ford's mass production of the charcoal briquette, barbecuing with charcoal has become more and more popular.

The manufacturing of charcoal is a multi-step process. The main ingredient for a quality briquette is the char (the first syllable of charcoal), but charcoal briquettes are not pure charcoal. At the beginning of the charcoal-making process, that mountain of wood visitors see at the entrance of the factory glides onto conveyer belts and enters a wood hog that feeds the retort for char. Afterward, it is dried and then packaged. The charring process occurs when the wood is burned in a furnace, creating a manageable material to form into a briquette. If the wood is too brittle, it will crumble. Once the charcoal is warm and soft, it is put into a dryer set at 300 degrees. Two hours later, the once-soft briquettes come out hard and are ready to be bagged and shipped to stores across the country.

St. Louis Grabs Three Spots in Recent Top 20 Best Ribs List

BBQ aficionados (the term "snobs" also works well here) across the country might be surprised at the news. Not us.

We admit that we felt dissed when our beloved St. Louis was completely passed by on The Daily Meal's Ultimate BBQ Road Trip last year, and even penned a quick missive, alerting TDM that they missed one hell of a stop. Did they listen? We'll never know. Regardless, it is wth some pride that today we report The Daily Meal has awarded a ranked list of the "Top 20 Ribs in America" and St. Louis garnered three mentions: Pappy's Smokehouse (#8), Roper's Ribs (#18), and Bogart's Smokehouse (#19). The list included ribs from Los Angeles to New York City fittingly perhaps (Texas Monthly recently hired its first BBQ Editor, a position that exists nowhere else in the U.S.), Texas BBQ joints earned six mentions.

Pappys' and Bogarts' ribs are the same spec, come from the same source, and are tended by the same pitmaster, Skip Steele. The only difference is a minor tweak in spicing and the finish. At Bogart's, Steele uses a roofer's blowtorch (above) to caramelize a final apricot glaze.

Many folks become acquainted with Pappy's ribs by standing in line at the now legendary Midtown joint, where owner Mike Emerson frequently walks the queue, armed with rib samples (below left). It's a brilliant idea, really, the perfect specimens acting as an icebreaker, Emerson's handshake, a palate teaser. and a highly-effective example of upselling. At Bogart's, Skip Steele doles out not ribs, but smoked wings, an item not on the menu but only offered to those waitng in his line. for those apricot-laquered ribs.

Although SLM recognized Roper's Ribs in The Best BBQ in St. Louis cover story in June 2012, we daresay that despite their awards (a list "longer than a slab of spares," as we say in the article), they are a lesser known establishment, despite the fact that they've been around since 1976. Roper's (Denise Roper is above right) is a traditional and more typical St. Louis BBQ joint, offering up tips, snoots, and whole smoked chickens, as well as a rib slathered with that tell-tale, sweet-smoky, St. Louis-style sauce.

At $20-plus per slab, BBQ ribs are considered a pricey treat for many, but pitmasters know that the raw material cost is high on this particular item, and the selling price for a slab and 2 sides should in fact be closer to the $30 mark. What we're saying is that baby back BBQ ribs are a relative deal, if that makes you feel any better heading into Memorial Day weekend, the official kickoff of BBQ season in St. Louis.

A Road Trip of a Lifetime.

Barbecuing is the ultimate &ldquospice&rdquo form of cooking. Yeah, I said it! Sure, some will argue that Indian cooking (with a long history of amazing curries using a multitude of spices) is, others would lean toward Thai, and many would land on the side of Mexico with their complex, spice-rich mole sauces. They would all have valid points and strong arguments that on a different day I might have to side with. But not today. Today I&rsquom a proud American, touting one of our cooking styles that&mdashbelieve it or not&mdashis being enthusiastically replicated around the world. Great foodie cities like London and Paris now have locally-owned barbecue joints offering specific styles of American regional barbecue. We always knew that American barbecue had that certain &ldquoje ne sais quoi&rdquo, but now others are starting to get it too!

Mike Mills from 17th Street BBQ - Murphysboro, IL

Over 10+ years of selling spices and developing seasonings, the barbecue section has consistently received the most attention from our customers and me. Even with all of the attention I&rsquove given it, it is clear that our customers are still salivating for even more flavor combos! So, I decided an exploration into American regional barbecue was in order. Through my research, I learned that (the consensus is) seven specific regions make up the family tree of American barbecue.

1. Central Texas
2. East Texas
3. Memphis
4. Alabama
5. South Carolina
6. North Carolina
7. Kansas City

So I set a course with these seven areas as my primary targets but not an itinerary so rigid that I might miss out on the opportunity to visit a barbecue joint that wasn&rsquot originally on my radar.

My original plan was very aggressive in terms of the number of joints I wanted to hit versus the days I had allotted 76 barbecue joints in 38 days! While I liked the idea of needing to hit only two stops a day (I figured I could easily eat barbecue twice a day), I didn&rsquot love the idea of doing it without any breaks. Plus, my route would have me driving past trout rivers that I knew I would want to cast a few flies into. With that in mind, I revised my plan I&rsquod leave Denver on August 14th and return on September 25th&mdashjust in time to host a barbecue party at my home on the 26th. That meant I now had 43 days on the road. With those extra days I could take a two day break every two weeks to do some fishing and catch up on some veggies, or so I thought.

On August 14, 2015 I packed my bags, loaded up my truck, hitched up my camper and headed south on I-25 to begin Chasing Barbecue. Amazingly I would drive more than 7000 miles without so much as a flat tire or speeding ticket, catch and release 50+ fish, hit 88 barbecue joints in 14 states, and make it home the evening of September 25th to cook barbecue for my golf league friends on 26th. Oh, I almost forgot the swag along the way I collected 66 barbecue tees and 21 hats!

Before leaving on my Chasing Barbecue road trip, I had some concerns about what all this barbecue feasting could or would ultimately do to me.

Heirloom Market BBQ - Atlanta, GA

Would eating barbecue multiple times a day, day after day, kill my love for it?

Would I gain so much weight that I would have to stop and buy some fat pants just to make it through the trip? (My team here in Denver had a weight gain pool and some were betting I&rsquod gain as much as 15-20 pounds on the trip!)

Could my cholesterol levels spike and become a danger? And how does one even know that&rsquos what is happening when it happens?

What about meat sweats, whatever the heck they are? Would I experience them and have to drop out early (and let my Savory team down) because I was a meat-sweating quitter?

And worst of all, as I&rsquom quickly approaching 50, might I drop dead of a barbeque-overload induced heart attack? (Though, death by barbecue might not be the worst way to go.)

Obviously the last one didn&rsquot happen because I&rsquom writing this but none of the others did either&hellipat least not to me! Believe it or not, even in the latter days of my Chasing Barbecue road trip, I was always psyched for the first stop of the day. It was the second, third, and sometimes fourth and fifth stops that were challenging. Most days I ended up hitting 3 barbecue joints. Breakfast typically wasn&rsquot an option so I&rsquod generally arrive around 11am for an early lunch, have a late lunch around 2pm, and finish with a dinner at 6pm. That&rsquos not a lot of digestion time between meals and I realized early on that I needed to develop an eating strategy.

If you followed my trip on Facebook last summer, while I was live-blogging it, you saw me post many photos of massive amounts of barbecue. The reason I ordered a lot (aside from wanting to share an impressive pic) was so I could get the best possible representation of what each of these regional barbecue aficionados had to offer. I would take a single bite of each item on the plate and then allow myself two or three additional bites of my favorites. If they had barbecue sauces I&rsquod use my extra bites to try each of those. I didn&rsquot just try their &lsquocue, I was also on the hunt for info on the regional differences in sides and desserts. I tried to apply the same strategy for those but desserts didn&rsquot always make it easy. You try walking away from scrumptious, chewy, fried pie filled with warm peaches or a cup of creamy banana pudding chock-full of a nostalgic, childhood favorite&mdashvanilla wafer cookies! I was pretty diligent in sticking with my strategy but if I strayed I simply &lsquopunished&rsquo myself with an extra mile on my run the next morning.

Trying all that &lsquocue without having conversations with the expert pitmasters who made it would have been a missed opportunity. So every day I tried to be the most extroverted version of myself. If you know me personally, you know that I tend to lean introvert. After all, I have an extroverted crutch I can lean on: Janet, my outgoing, easy-on-the-eyes wife! She has opened doors and started conversations that make our lives much more interesting and I&rsquom grateful to her for that. But she wasn&rsquot down for eating barbecue every day for more than a month so if I wanted to gather the best information I needed to &ldquoman up&rdquo, put a smile on my face, and engage&hellipdamn it!

And engage I did! By itself, Chasing Barbecue for 43 days and hitting 88 joints makes for a great road trip. But the people I met along the way made it the road trip of a lifetime.

Paul Kirk - The Baron of Barbecue

I got to hang out, talk barbecue, and get tips from three legendary barbecue Hall of Famers (yes, there is a barbecue Hall of Fame): Pat Burke, Mike &ldquoThe Legend&rdquo Mills, and Paul &ldquoThe Baron of BBQ&rdquo Kirk. Pat Burke has won more barbecue titles and championships than any living person. His triumphs include three Grand World Championships, five Memphis in May titles, and The Jack Daniel&rsquos World Championship Invitational. Mike Mills has won four World Championships, three Memphis in May titles, The Jack Daniel&rsquos World Championship Invitational, and Jack Daniel&rsquos Sauce Championship. Paul Kirk has won more than 500 cooking and barbecue awards including seven World Championships highlighted by wins in the American Royal World Series of Barbecue Open Contest, the American Royal Invitational, The Jack Daniel&rsquos Invitational, and let&rsquos not forget his 12 cookbooks and that he is a founding member of the Kansas City Barbecue Society.

I also met and had &lsquocue convos with some of the most fascinating people in the business. In Texas that included Big Ern Servantes, the winner of Chopped Grill Masters Roy Perez, the pitmaster for 28+ years at the historic Kreuz Market in the &ldquoMecca of Barbecue,&rdquo Lockhart, Texas Tootsie Tomanetz, the original female pitmaster (still womanning the pits at 80+ years old!) John Mueller, the bad boy of Texas barbecue (his barbecue family tree includes grandfather Louie, father Bobby, brother Wayne, sister LeAnn, and assorted other rising pitmasters in and around Texas) and Daniel Vaughn, aka The Barbecue Snob, the barbecue editor for Texas Monthly (the publication annually determines the top 50 barbecue joints in Texas).

In Memphis the conversational &lsquocue highlights included Craig Blondis, co-founder of Central BBQ Eric Vernon, whose family operates the number one barbecue joint in the country according to Food Network and Bobby Bradley of Cozy Corner BBQ, whose family has been serving up a barbecue original, Cornish hens, since 1977.

Christopher Prieto from Prime BBQ - Wendell, NC

In Alabama I sat down and talked &lsquocue with Miss Lulu Hatcher, who was 12 when her mother Lannie opened their family joint in 1942&mdashLannie&rsquos BBQ in Selma I also talked to Don McLemore, a barbecue champion in some of the biggest events in our country and the grandson of Big Bob Gibson, who invented the famous Alabama white barbecue sauce 91 years ago.

In the Carolinas, I talked with whole hog barbecue specialists Rodney Scott, of Scott&rsquos in Hemingway, SC Sam Jones, of Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ, whose family has been serving up barbecue in North Carolina since the mid-1800s and James Beard award nominee Elliot Moss, who recently shifted his culinary focus to barbecue by opening his new joint, Buxton Hall BBQ in Asheville, NC.

In Kentucky I tracked down the notoriously cranky Oscar Hill, the 79-year-old oil man turned pitmaster who is famous for &lsquocueing up double cut pork chops. In St. Louis it was Mike &ldquoPappy&rdquo Emerson of Pappy&rsquos Smokehouse who shared some of his knowledge with me. In Kansas City, brothers Joe and Mike Pearce of Slap&rsquos (Squeal Like A Pig) gave me some of their time as did 81 year old LC Richardson of LC&rsquos BBQ.

While this list is long, it actually represents fewer than a third of the barbecue pros I was lucky enough to speak with while Chasing Barbecue. Before I share the questions I asked, I want to call out one more person. Without this man&rsquos assistance there is no way my trip would have been as successful. So I want to say a huge thank you to Christopher Prieto, owner of Prime BBQ, author of Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ, Savory fan, and all around great guy. Not only did he go out of his way to contact his friends in barbecue to tell them about my trip and get me access, but he also hosted me for an unforgettable day of barbecue in North Carolina.

I asked every barbecue pro I met on this trip a few questions.

&bull In your own words, what defines your region&rsquos barbecue?
&bull Are there any spices that are critical to your style of barbecue?
&bull What pro-tip would you give the backyard barbecue guy or gal to help them produce better barbecue at home?

Tootsie from Snow's BBQ - Lexington, TX

From their answers, I gathered a lot of interesting and helpful information to share. Perhaps surprisingly, the spices being used across the different regions are not all that different. Texas stands out for its simplicity by predominately using only kosher salt and extra coarse black pepper to season its beef barbecue, but in robust quantities&hellipreally coating it on! In the rest of the regions it&rsquos the usual spice suspects: salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, onion, mustard, cumin, celery, chiles and chili powders, etc. in varying combinations&mdashnothing extraordinarily different. In Kansas City and Memphis they do use a fair amount of sugar in their rubs.

Where I found the striking differences in regional flavors were in the sauces. Interestingly, some barbecue purists I talked with said that barbecue sauces aren&rsquot part of authentic barbecue. However, that wasn&rsquot what I experienced. In fact, of the 88 joints I hit only one didn&rsquot offer any sort of barbecue sauce. The rest not only had a sauce option but, more often than not, they offered their regionally specific sauce and two to three additional popular options that resonated with their customers.

Over the summer we&rsquoll delve into the differences I did find, which will include info on those sauces, fuels used, and the types of proteins different regions specialize in. We&rsquoll also share the pro-tips I gathered and interesting barbecue terminology I ran across along the way. Hopefully the collection of info we&rsquoll be sharing will help you up your game you might even intimidate your neighbors a little when they are drawn into your backyard by amazing aromas. So please stay tuned.

Texas barbecue road trip

What are the best barbecue restaurants in Texas?

There are so many amazing BBQ restaurants in Texas. If you want to extend your road trip by a day, take a trip to Snow’s BBQ in the town of Lexington. Like the famous Franklin BBQ, this delicious eatery sees long lines every morning. We promise it’s worth setting an alarm for, though. You just can’t get smoked brisket like this anywhere else.

What are the best Tex Mex restaurants in Texas?

There is no shortage of amazing places to get Tex Mex in Texas. Everyone raves about the food from Matt’s El Rancho in Austin, and it’s easy to see why. This iconic eatery crafts their tortillas from scratch every day, and their salsa is spicy and delicious. Be sure to order their famous chile relleno! This dish is so good, former president LBJ once had them flown to the white house.

What are the best sandwich shops in Texas?

For an amazing sandwich, you have to head over to Alvin Ord’s in San Marcos. This neighborhood deli is known for crafting giant sandwiches served on soft, freshly baked bread. It’s one of the best sandwich shops in Texas. Come see why! After your first bite, you’ll want to come back again and again.

3. Bogart’s Smokehouse, St. Louis

A relative newcomer, Bogart’s is helmed by the former pitmaster from a St. Louis institution, Pappy’s. The sides here are spectacular, but make sure not to fill up on them because their ribs are the main event. They’re sticky and caramelized due to a special treatment that they get after being removed from the grill: they’re hit with a blowtorch, a genius move if we ever saw one.


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