I watched a show called Food Heavens about barbeque yesterday. Funny thing is that, even though they showed it on their schedule, I could find no pages about it. Maybe they knew how screwed up the show was. I wanted to send them an email. There are a few arguable criticisms, but a lot of what they got wrong is fact, not up for debate.

According to this show, the US has four types of BBQ:

  • North Carolina (pork) with a ketchup/vinegar thin sauce.
  • Memphis (pork) with a thick tomato based sauce (looked like Kansas City thick, sweet style sauce to me.
  • Kansas City (pork) with a tomato based thick, sweet sauce
  • Texas (beef) with what looked like a thick, sweet Kansas City type sauce

So, what we seem to have here is one thin ketchup/vinegar sauce and three variations of the tomato based, thick and sweet Kansas City style sauce.

The “expert” BBQ historian mentions the origins of BBQ as being in the Carolinas, but doesn’t mention South Carolina. She attributes the origins to the English colonists. She also placed way too much importance on Texas and Kansas City, both latecomers to the BBQ scene .

Origins of American BBQ

The Indians had the slow cooking, smoking method of cooking

OK, so what is wrong with this?

  1. Let’s start with the origins of BBQ. BBQ was actually invented in SOUTH Carolina by the Spanish and Edisto Indians. The first European settlement in the US was a Spanish colony in what is now St Helena, South Carolina (back then, the area was part of what the Spanish called Florida, a huge area). The Indians had the cooking method and the Spanish had the pig. The rest is history!
  2. Traditionally, only pork is BBQ. Technically, Texas brisket is not BBQ, even though it is slow cooked and very tasty.
  3. There are actually four original styles of BBQ in the US. BBQ styles are defined by the sauce and how it is used, since all BBQ is slow cooked over low temperatures. Note that only one state (South Carolina) historically has all four sauces as indigenous developments).
    • Thin ketchup/vinegar sauce (the show got this one right)
    • Thick ketchup based sauce ala Kansas City style (the show got this right)
    • Thin vinegar sauce (eastern North Carolina and parts of South Carolina). The show completely ignored this one.
    • Mustard based sauce (South Carolina midlands). The show completely ignored this one.

This show really does BBQ a disservice and it is a shame. Let’s get it right and give credit where it is due.


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4 Comments on Travel Channel Gets it Wrong About BBQ

  1. [...] wrote a previous article about Travel Channel getting it completely wrong about the history of barbeque in the United States. I am watching Chopped on Food Network and just saw an ad spot with Paula Deen [...]

  2. I vacation in the outerbanks of Corolla SC and my eldest sister lives in Richmond VA and I. Live in Lorain OH on the Lake Erie (hail to Lake Erie High!). When I visit the south. I bring home a case of Carolina Treat BBQ sauce! I fell in love with it at first taste!!

  3. James Simpson says:

    Enjoy all the Travel Channel food shows.. but

    You don’t give SC credit for originating great BBQ(and that’s pork)with our mustard base sauces…I gave my friend a list of 100 bbq places in SC and you can pick what you like..mustard base, tomato base, or vinagar base…Sheally’s in Leesville buses people in from Georgia. I hear the Germans brought the mustard sauces to the up state.. What other state has the mustard base sauces mixed with honey. We have Dukes below Orangeburg, Brushy Creek near Clemson ….

    Here’s a list…All I ask is give us credit…better than Dallas, better than Memphis..more variety than North Carolina

    James Simpson
    age 70
    Greenville SC

    Annie’s Bar-B-Q & Grill
    Seneca Barbecue

    Antley’s Bar-Bq
    Orangeburg Barbecue

    B & D Bar-B-Que
    Walterboro Barbecue

    Bar-B-Q Pit Stop
    Sumter Barbecue

    Bar-B-Que Hut
    Sumter Barbecue

    BBQ Barn
    North Augusta Barbecue

    BBQ Barn
    Aiken Barbecue and Buffet

    Beef & Rib Restaurant
    Seneca Barbecue, American and Burgers

    Ben’s Barbeque
    Greenwood Barbecue

    Bertha’s Barbecue
    Manning Barbecue

    Big ‘d’s Bar Bq
    Hemingway Barbecue and Buffet

    Big Al’s Bar-B-Q
    Seneca Barbecue

    Big B’s BBQ
    Abbeville Barbecue

    Big Bill’s Low Country Bar-B-Q
    Georgetown Barbecue, Southern & Soul and Buffet

    Bill’s BBQ
    Cheraw Barbecue

    BMW Restaurant
    Aiken Barbecue

    Bobby’s Bar-b-q Buffet
    Aiken Buffet and Barbecue

    Brown Derby II
    Orangeburg Barbecue

    Brown’s Bar-B-Que
    Kingstree Barbecue

    Carl’s Best BBQ
    North Augusta Barbecue

    Carolina Bar-b-que
    Aiken Barbecue

    Carolina Barbecue of Greenwood
    Greenwood Barbecue, Hot Dogs and Burgers

    Carolina Cafe
    Gaffney Steakhouse, Barbecue and Seafood

    Catchall Bar-B-Que
    Sumter Barbecue

    Choo Choo Barbeque
    Orangeburg Barbecue

    Country Fix-Ins Bar-B-Que
    Sumter Barbecue

    D & H Bar-B-Que
    Manning Barbecue

    D & T Barbque Place
    Manning Barbecue

    Daddy Joe’s Beach House BBQ
    Gaffney Barbecue

    Dairy O
    Orangeburg Barbecue and Desserts/Ice Cream

    Dowd’s Hash Incorporated
    Newberry Barbecue

    Duke’s Bar-B-Q
    Aiken Barbecue

    Duke’s Bar-B-Q
    Walterboro Barbecue

    Duke’s Bar-B-Que
    Blackville Barbecue

    Duke’s Bar-B-Que of Bamberg
    Orangeburg Barbecue

    Dukes Bar-B-Que
    Orangeburg Barbecue

    Dukes Barbecue
    Orangeburg Barbecue

    Dukes Barbecue
    Orangeburg Barbecue

    Ernest’s Bar Bq
    Aiken Barbecue

    Fred’s
    Mullins Barbecue

    Freeman’s Bar-B-Que
    Aiken Barbecue

    G & G Barbeque
    Orangeburg Barbecue

    Gator’s Restaurants & Bar-B-Q
    Estill Barbecue

    Gist Grill & Bar Bq
    Gaffney Barbecue

    Goodland BBQ
    Springfield Barbecue

    Hawg Heaven Barbeque
    Prosperity Barbecue

    Hickory Hills Bar-B-Que
    Greenwood Barbecue

    Hills Bar-B-Cue
    Gaffney Barbecue

    Hog Doctors BBQ
    Bonneau Barbecue

    Hogg Heaven
    Barnwell Barbecue

    Kenny’s Bar B Que
    Hemingway Barbecue

    Kev’s Wings
    Orangeburg Barbecue

    Kings Bar B Que
    Fairfax Barbecue

    Laird’s Bar-B-Q Pit
    Orangeburg Barbecue, Seafood and Buffet

    Leo’s Wings
    Sumter Barbecue

    Lester DE Loach Pit Bar-B-Cue
    Estill Barbecue

    Lisa’s Hawg’n Dawg BBQ LLC
    Gaffney Barbecue

    Little Pigs Barbecue-Greenwood
    Greenwood Barbecue

    Lonestar BBQ & Mercantile
    Manning Barbecue and Southern & Soul

    Low Country Buffalo Wings
    Abbeville Barbecue

    Mama C’s
    Gaffney Barbecue

    The Maryville Diner
    Georgetown American, Barbecue and Breakfast/Brunch

    Matthews Oak & Hickory BBQ
    Greenwood Barbecue

    Maurice’s Gourmet Barbeque
    Orangeburg Barbecue

    Maurice’s Gourmet Barbeque
    Manning Barbecue

    Mc Cabes Bar-B-Que
    Manning Barbecue

    Midway BBQ
    Gaffney Barbecue

    Moree’s Bar-B-Que
    Andrews Barbecue

    Newman’s Barbecue
    Aiken Barbecue

    Papa Russ’s BBQ
    Aiken Barbecue

    Pete’s Restaurant
    Gaffney Barbecue, Greek and Diner

    Piggaso’s Barbeque
    Seneca Barbecue

    Piggaso’s Barbeque
    Seneca Barbecue

    Ray’s Rib King
    Walterboro Barbecue, Seafood and Sandwiches/Subs

    Robert’s Rib
    Chesterfield Barbecue

    Rubbies Bar Bq
    Greenwood Barbecue

    Sandy Ocean BBQ
    Bennettsville Barbecue, Southern & Soul and Buffet

    Scott BBQ
    Hemingway Barbecue

    Smoke House Grill
    Jefferson Barbecue

    Smokehouse Barbecue & Hmckng
    Greenwood Barbecue

    Smokehouse BBQ & Home Cooking
    Greenwood Barbecue

    Southern Pride BBQ Catering
    Sumter Barbecue

    Sportsman’s Barbeque
    North Augusta Barbecue

    Stephens Open Pit Barbeque
    Manning Barbecue

    Sweatman’s BBQ
    Manning Barbecue

    Tommy Rose Bar-B-Que
    Orangeburg Barbecue

    Trenton Bar-B-Q
    Aiken Barbecue

    Ward’s Bar B Que
    Sumter Barbecue

    Ward’s Bar-B-Q
    Sumter Barbecue

    Ward’s Bar-B-Q
    Sumter Barbecue

    Ward’s Bar-B-Que
    Sumter Barbecue

    Whiteford’s Drive-In
    Greenwood Barbecue

    Willard’s Hash & Barbecue

    Gaffney Barbecue
    Williamson’s Bar-B-Que

    Nichols Barbecue
    Wilson’s Barbecue

    Georgetown Barbecue
    Wing & Ribs

    Sumter Barbecue
    Wing Place

    Aiken Barbecue
    Wing Stop

    North Augusta Barbecue
    Wings Express

    Sumter Barbecue
    Wingz N Thangz

    Allendale Barbecue

    Wise Bar-B-Q House
    Newberry Barbecue

  4. Virgil says:

    Hi James, I agree completely and I thought I made the case for SC, including mustard based sauce, in my post. That is the major reason I criticized the Travel Channel show. I am from SC.
    Good eating!

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