The History of BBQ

Everyone loves to claim their ancestors invented BBQ. For example, American and BBQ are as “American as apple pie” neither of which was invented in the USA1. South Americans natives on the other hand, proudly proclaim the word Barbecue comes from ‘Barbacoa,’ a lattice used to cook and smoke meat. Polynesians will top it by pointing they have been slow smoking pork for thousands of years.

But if we are honest, it would not be surprising if the first hunter who killed a mammoth and did not have a stadium to feed, would have to come up quickly with a solution to preserve meat.

Since refrigeration was not an option (unless you lived on the North Pole), you had few alternatives. Which meant sun-drying. Unfortunately, this method also attracts flies and other bugs. Not super appealing and is likely to get you sick.

Another option was to salt meat. This was a great option up to recently, especially for sailors on long voyages. The downside is that you had to steep meat for a long time to leach out the salt, and even then, it may not taste the best.

Finally, someone may have figured out that building a fire with lots of smoke nearby while sun drying would keep the bugs away. After one bite, he must have been convinced this was the best thing ever! Unfortunately, the Nobel prize was yet to be invented; otherwise, he would have been the clear winner.

As an aside to the women folk out there, I say ‘he’ and ‘him’ because while the dude may have killed the critter, she likely skinned it, sliced it, spiced it, invented BBQ sauce, the 5 beans and potato salad, made her own charcoal and lit it by rubbing 2 sticks! And thereafter clean up after everybody.

All that buddy had to do in the meantime, was slap it on the BBQ. I can even see him grumbling about that! “But I’m watching my favorite cave painting with my buddies, now I’m gonna miss most of the action and replays are just not the same”.

Everyone then heaped praise on him for the best meal ever! Somehow, things never change.

Next on his agenda was to invent the ‘backyard’ (which she had to design and decorate) and tailgate BBQ party (all his). Of course, BBQ tasted better once beer was invented and some sport could be watched while eating it. (The first game of kicking a ball made of a big round stone was not as popular as first thought. Especially for the players. Hence, the NFLPA was born (No Foot Lost Probably Again). But that’s another story.)

What BBQ is not!

One does not ‘BBQ’ a burger, a hot-dog wiener, steak, or anything that needs sizzling. Why? Because BBQ’ing is a low and slow method of cooking that requires hours of patience. So, unless you smoke your wieners from 5 to 8 hours, you are, in fact, grilling.

Some purists claim only pork should qualify as BBQ. Other meats need not apply. Tell that to your ancestors who used to cook all sorts of wild game animals with this method.

The history of BBQ - pork

BBQ, Barbeque, Barbecue or Bar-B-Q?

Good question and the real answer is: none of the above. There are a lot of disputes about the root word of BBQ, but let’s discuss the most likely.

  • Barbacoa: As per History Today2. “The Spanish word barbacoa was first used by the explorer and historian Gonzalo Fernàndez de Oviedo y Valdés (1478-1557). On returning to Europe after nine years in the New World, he published a series of books describing the course of his voyages and the customs of the peoples he had encountered. In La historia general y natural de las Indias (1535), he introduced his readers not only to tobacco and pineapples, but also to the barbacoa, a word he claimed to have learned from the Taínos, an Arawak-speaking people, who were the main inhabitants of Hispaniola, Jamaica and Cuba. Its meaning was, however, curious. According to Oviedo, a barbacoa was a type of lattice, made from a variety of natural materials and put to a wide range of purposes.” And the article goes on and on about what this word may mean. But it could also be applied to any latticed frame such as a bed.
  • Another origin story3 is that barbecue is a contraction of the name of a popular US roadhouse with pool tables: “Bar, Beer, and Cue.” There are no historical records to back this one up.
  • Certain cookbooks3 from Texas have perpetuated the myth of a rancher named Bernard Quayle or Barnaby Quinn, depending on who you talk to. His favorite thing to do was cook up various types of meat over open pits and serve the food to his friends. On his ranch, his animals were branded with his initials—B.Q. Thus, his ranch became “Bar B.Q.”. Sound a little far-fetched to you? Yeah, us too.
  • Barbe à queue or Barbe au cul4: This is French, meaning from the “beard to the tail or butt”. So, if you were cooking a goat on a spit, for example, you could say you were roasting it from “barbe à queue” (from its beard to its tail/butt). Why French, you ask? My, you are an enquiring lot! French pirates of the Caribbeans were called ‘Boucanier’ (Buccaneers in English). It comes from the French word ‘Boucane’ or ‘smoke’. Apparently, these ruggedly handsome rogues were fond of smoking meat and ended up smelling like it. This combination of French bad-boy BBQ smelling pirate proved irresistible to the womenfolk.

So, for you guys out there, if you want a romantic evening with your better half, you may want to sprinkle yourself with some hickory smoke concentrate and murmur some sweet, sweet French words in her ears that every woman long to hear… “Ma petite côte de porc fumée” (My sweet little smoked pork rib) adding a few “Shiver me timbers!” won’t hurt either. You’ll thank me later.

Guess which one is my favorite version? Argh, me matey, you’re a pirate, and you know it!

6 interesting statistics about BBQ:

  • About 7 out of 10 U.S. adults possess a smoker or a grill, while in Canada, the ratio is 8 out of 10.5
  • Canada is the leading destination of BBQ appliance exports, with 228,647 USD in export value. Mexico follows at 35,573 USD, and Australia at 31,302.6
  • The most preferred side dishes served with barbecue are potatoes, corn, and grilled vegetables.7
  • 75% of owners grill during the winter months.8
  • Smoking is one of the leading trends in the BBQ world and continues to be popular despite the pandemic.6
  • Among grill owners, gas continues to be the preferred fuel with 61% using propane, next is charcoal with 49%, followed by the electric grill with 10%, while 9% use the natural gas grill and 3% use wood pellet grills.8

Fun Facts about BBQ:

  • 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 barbecue9.
  • Along the way, famous inventors left their mark on the American barbecue: the first commercial charcoal briquet factory was designed by Thomas Edison and built by Henry Ford in 19219.
  • 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). More recently, “Barbecue Pitmasters” aired on TLC, featuring people cooking up their best barbecue recipes to compete for a $100,000 grand prize9.
  • The largest attendance at a barbecue is 45,252 people at an event organized by Estado de Nuevo Leon (Mexico) at Parque Fundidora in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, on 18 August 20139.
  • The longest barbecue measured 8,000 meters (20,246 feet) and was created by the people of Bayambang (Philippines), on 4 April 2014. The barbecue was made up of 8,000 grills connected to each other, each measuring 1 m in length, 58 cm in height and 21 cm in width9.
  1. The History of Apple Pie | Back Then History
  2. The History of the Barbecue | History Today
  3. The Origin of the Word Barbecue (
  4. Barbecue: The History of an American Institution, Revised and Expanded Second Edition: Moss, Robert F.: 9780817320652: Books
  5. Five Grilling Facts From HPBA Recent Survey (
  6. 43 BBQ Statistics, Trends, and Facts [2023] (
  7. 58 Hot BBQ Grilling Industry Stats, Facts, And Trends (
  8. 2020 State of the Barbecue Industry: > Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA)
  9. Interesting facts about barbecue | Just Fun Facts


Below is a list of fireplace and grill stores that service ()

Auburn, AL

Top Hat Chimney Sweeps
1280 Financial Ct.
Auburn, AL 36830

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Elk Grove, CA

Custom Fireside Shops
9097 Elk Grove Blvd.
Elk Grove, CA 95624

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Sacramento, CA

Custom Fireside Shops
5455 Auburn Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95841

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Durango, CO

Durango Outdoor Living
140 Rock Point Drive
Durango, CO 81301

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Durango, CO

Four Corner Stoves & Spas
3001 Main Avenue
Durango, CO 81301

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Grand Junction, CO

Stove Depot and Chimney Works
330 North Ave.
Grand Junction, CO 81501

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New London, CT

Family Hearth and Patio LLC
571 Broad Street
New London, CT 06320

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Ridgefield, CT

Yankee Doodle, Inc.
71 Ethan Allen Highway
Ridgefield, CT 06877

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Dover, DE

Byler's Stove Shoppe, Inc.
1368b Rose Valley School Rd.
Dover, DE 19904

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Destin, FL

Doodlebuggers Service Network
36054 Emerald Coast Parkway
Destin, FL 32541

Bettendorf, IA

Fireplaces Plus, Inc.
1745 State Street
Bettendorf, IA 52722

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Rockford, IL

Advanced Chimney Systems, Inc.
3486 Lonergan Drive
Rockford, IL 61109

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Wauconda, IL

Grass Roots Energy, Inc.
28751 N Route 12
Wauconda, IL 60084

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Evansville, IN

Firemaster, Inc.
5300 E Morgan Avenue
Evansville, IN 47715

Jeffersonville, IN

Olde Towne Chimney & Fireplace Sales
915 Nachand Ln
Jeffersonville, IN 47130

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Overland Park, KS

Kansas City Fireplace Center
10470 Metcalf Avenue
Overland Park, KS 66212

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Erlanger, KY

TateBuilder's Supply, LLC
3511 Dixie Highway
Erlanger, KY 41018

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Littleton, MA

Woodstove, Fireplace and Patio Shop, Inc.
60 White Street
Littleton, MA 01460

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Seekonk, MA

The Fireplace Showcase
775 Fall River Ave
Seekonk, MA 02771

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Sudbury, MA

Woodstove, Fireplace and Patio Shop, Inc.
348 Boston Post Road
Sudbury, MA 01776

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Duluth, MN

Duluth Stove & Fireplace
2431 W Superior Street
Duluth, MN 55806

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Minneapolis, MN

Woodland Stoves & Fireplaces
2901 Franklin Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Oakdale, MN

Energy Savers of Minnesota
6298 Highway 36 Blvd N
Oakdale, MN 55128

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Rochester, MN

Brekke Fireplace Shoppe
1904 S. Broadway
Rochester, MN 55904

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Walker, MN

Wilkening Fireplace Company
9608 State 371 NW
Walker, MN 56484

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Charlotte, NC

The Hearth and Patio
4332 Monroe Road
Charlotte, NC 28205

Fargo, ND

Home Heating, Plumbing & A/C Inc.
701 28th Street South
Fargo, ND 58103

Fargo, ND

Hebron Brick Company
2300 Main Avenue
Fargo, ND 58103

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Omaha, NE

Fireplace By Design
13913 R Plaza
Omaha, NE 68137

Epping, NH

The Stove Shoppe
285, Calef Highway Rte. 125
Epping, NH 03042

Windham, NH

The Stove Shoppe
25 Indian Rock Road
Windham, NH 03087

Hamilton, NJ

Bowden's Fireside - Hearth & Home
1731 Nottingham Way
Hamilton, NJ 08619

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Voorhees, NJ

Rettinger Fireplace Systems, Inc
476 Centennial Blvd
Voorhees, NJ 08043

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Yorktown Heights,, NY

Fire Glow Distributors, Inc.
173 Tomahawk St
Yorktown Heights,, NY 10598

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Canfield, OH

Youngstown Propane, Inc.
4445 Boardman-Canfield Rd.
Canfield, OH 44406

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St. Henry, OH

Buschur's Refrigeration, Inc.
541 N Eastern Avenue
St. Henry, OH 45883

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Portland, OR

Classic Heat Source Inc
18430 SE Burnside Street
Portland, OR 97233

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Emmaus, PA

Stoves 'n Stuff, LTD
683 State Rd/Lehigh St
Emmaus, PA 18049

Media, PA

Chimney Cricket
101 State Road
Media, PA 19063

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Stroudsburg,, PA

Stoves 'n Stuff, LTD
1523 N. Ninth Street
Stroudsburg,, PA 18360

Tamaqua, PA

Stoves 'n Stuff, LTD
561 West Penn Pike
Tamaqua, PA 18252

Rapid City, SD

Hebron Brick Company
1543 Deadwood Ave
Rapid City, SD 57709

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Sioux Falls, SD

Hebron Brick Company
2211 W. 50th Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57105-6525

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Vermillion, SD

Kalin's Indoor Comfort Inc.
710 Cottage Avenue
Vermillion, SD 57069

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Manassas, VA

Winston's Chimney Service
11301 Industrial Road
Manassas, VA 20109

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Barre, VT

Chimney Sweep Fireplace Shop
1284 US Rte, 302 Ste 10
Barre, VT 05641-2317

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Bennington, VT

Friends of The Sun
126 Hicks Avenue
Bennington, VT 05201

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Manchester, VT

Friends of The Sun
159 Depot Street
Manchester, VT 05255

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Shelburne, VT

Chimney Sweep Fireplace Shop
3113 Shelburne Road
Shelburne, VT 05482

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White River Jnct, VT

Home Comfort Warehouse
54 Bridge Street
White River Jnct, VT 05001

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Burlington, WI

Burlington Fireplace & Heating LLC
857 Milwaukee Ave.
Burlington, WI 53105

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Madison, WI

Top Hat
5117 Verona Rd
Madison, WI 53711

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West Salem, WI

American Home Fireplace & Patio
240 County Road M North
West Salem, WI 54669

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Morgantown, WV

Rustic By Design
709 Beechurst Ave. Suite 15
Morgantown, WV 26505

Laramie, WY

High Country Stoves & Fireplaces
860 N. 3rd Street
Laramie, WY 82072

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For more information, contact your local fireplace and grill store..

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