Barbecuing is one of America’s greatest pastimes. This could be in part because Andrew
Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, earned the nickname “Old-Hickory” for his
toughness, like hickory wood and elaborate hickory-fired barbecues. Or perhaps it’s due to
Lyndon B. Johnson who used it as a tool to get politicians from both sides of the aisle together.
LBJ famously hosted the President of Mexico and West German Chancellor to talk policy.
George Washington once hosted a BBQ that lasted three days. Guess it makes sense why he
wrote about it in his diary! Thomas Edison designed the first commercial charcoal briquet that
was manufactured by Henry Ford in 1921. These patriotic and political ties to the activity
continue today with the most common days of the year for grilling being Memorial Day, Fourth of
July and Labor Day, all national holidays representing American history, appreciation and
A barbecue can refer to the type of food, flavor, cooking device or style in which it was
made. Some techniques for preparing this type of food include grilling, roasting or smoking. The
method used will determine how long it will take to cook. For example, smoking demands low
heat over the course of a few hours while grilling uses direct heat at a high temperature for a
short period of time. Although 60% of “grill masters” barbecue year-round, popularity increases
during the warm summer months. Not only is it a great way to gather friends and family, but it
never disappoints to be delicious. Grill up classics like baby back ribs, chicken and pork or get
more exotic with slow braised brisket or lamb kabobs. Besides variations of scrumptious meat,
spices and sauces, sides are also to be expected at a well-rounded barbecue. Coleslaw,
macaroni salad, beans and cornbread are all great accompaniments. If you’re vegetarian, vegan
or gluten-free have no fear. There are plenty of recipes to accommodate dietary restrictions that
still offer the amazing taste of barbecue.
With endless possibilities, it's no wonder that barbecue competitions can be found all
across the country. Traditionally, contestants barbecue a signature dish or one that is specific to
the competition for judges to critique. Festivals, carnivals and town fairs are all common events
offering barbecue food and competitions. Celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Bobby Brown and
Billy Sims have all put money behind their love of barbecue from sauces, spices and even
restaurants. Just in case you’re wondering, the largest barbecue ever recorded took place only
a few years ago in Mexico during 2013 with over 45,000 people in attendance. Safe to say,
barbecue is more of a lifestyle than a cuisine.
Southern states in particular take pride in having a unique flair with different types of
meat and sauces used to create a wide variety of options and specialties. For example,
Alabama and Georgia are big on pork or chicken and use mostly sweet tomato based sauces.
Kentucky prefers a dry rub seasoning and using a less common meat known as mutton, which
is aged sheep. North Carolina on the other hand turns to vinegar based sauces for their highly
demanded pulled pork options. Let’s not forget about Texas, which is known for its beef brisket
and trademark black pepper heavy spice.
As the battle for the title of “Barbecue Capital of America” wages on between Memphis,
Tennessee and Kansas City, Missouri, we put together a list of places you can appreciate the
outdoors, light up the grill and have an amazing meal. Bon appétit!
An obvious choice and possibly the easiest, setting up a barbecue in the backyard is a great
way to relax at home and allow for plenty of time to experiment with new recipes. Mix it up or
stick to the basics. Either way, this is a convenient option for homebodies and homemakers
Pack your coolers and right before the sun is about to set, head out to the beach for a Luau
style pig roast. Add a bonfire and some tiki torches for extra ambiance. Luckily, the beach
allows for a group as big or small as you prefer. Check the calendar for any planned firework
shows for an added touch.
Driving an RV cross country or looking for an excuse to use your new tent? Look into a
campground that fits your interests and pack your barbecue gear. Meat and veggie skewers are
a great way to keep the barbecue simple yet efficient. This will give you a chance to take in the
fresh air, spend time in the wilderness and enjoy nature.
A rustic choice that offers more privacy and seclusion, lakefront barbecuing is a peaceful way to
bask in the sights while serving up a savory meal. If venturing out with kids, a quick dip in the
lake is a great way to occupy them and offer a much welcomed escape from the heat.
If you’re hoping to get out of the house to stretch your legs try venturing out to a local park.
Keep it simple on the grill with hotdogs and hamburgers and spice it up with the sides like
roasted cheddar, bacon, ranch corn on the cob and fried pickles. Bring a ball for catch or any
other fun activities to help make it a great day outdoors. A big added value if it includes any
museums, animal habitats and jungle gyms on site for extra fun.
Yellowstone, Delaware Water Gap, Redwood and Bandelier National Monument are just some
suggestions of parks that accommodate picnics and grill use. As these areas are specifically
designated, view the map beforehand to help plan the perfect BBQ. Be advised not to feed any
of the wildlife or leave behind any food or trash that curious critters can get into!
Order In / Take Out
Don’t have access to a grill or not feeling up to putting in the work yourself? Look up a barbecue
joint close to home that will do the work for you. Not only will you get an amazing meal but you
will be supporting a local vendor.