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The History of the Barbecue 

Barbecue has become a staple in American cuisine. In fact, one may even offer that barbecue is the original American cuisine, as it is a blend of other influences and evolved into what it is today through the blending of cultures, mirroring the melting pot that is this country. But exactly when and where was barbecue invented? Watch our full report to find out a brief history of BBQ.

Quick Facts about BQ

  • The first mention of a “barbecue” in America dates from 1733, when Benjamin Lynde of Salem, Massachussetts, wrote in his diary on August 31st, “Fair and hot; Browne; Barbacue. hack overset.” Which sounds like he went to a barbecue with Mrs. Brown, or… there was Bobby Brown sauce.
  • Former President Obama became the first person ever to skip the hours-long wait at Austin’s Franklin Barbecue in 2014, but bought lunch for the line as a thank you. “I feel real bad, but — I’m gonna cut.” We say, why else be President?
  • Politics and BBQ tangled even earlier, when in 1800s Alabama a guy called Barbecuensis started talking smack about political barbecues. His 1829 petition to end the affairs totally sputtered out, because barbecue rules.
  • Long before anyone pulled up and asked for a Sausage-Egg McMuffin, McDonald’s was originally a barbecue drive-in, called… “McDonald’s Bar-B-Que.”
  • The world’s largest BBQ pit hails from, where else, Texas. It serves up 8,000lbs of meat, and recently sold for $350,000 on ebay.
  • Henry M. Williams took BBQ to the Supreme Court in 1914, when the Cotton Mills Company in Columbia, South Carolina, fired him for taking two days off work to cook barbecue. The mill denied Williams’ request, but a craving is a craving, so he skipped out anyway. When they gave his loom away, Williams sued and won — amid the mill’s lawyers objections that knowing a man took off to cook barbecue would skew any South Carolina jury in his favor.
  • Lexington, North Carolina calls itself “The Barbecue Capital Of The World,” and attracts over 200,000 visitors every October to its annual BBQ festival, where it serves up more than 15,000 pounds of meat.
  • How BBQ is Lexington (again, “The Barbecue Capital Of The World”)? While renovating City Hall, they found barbecue pits built into the walls — remnants of the barbecue restaurant that once occupied the building.
  • In 1973, a man named George Steven Jr. filed a patent for an “electric barbecue.” You haven’t heard of him, because an electric barbecue is as un-American idea as a flag with colors that run. But that didn’t stop 65 other inventors from referencing his idea in their patents.

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