When it comes to barbeque, few places in the United States can rival the reputation of Kansas City. Known for its mouth-watering ribs, brisket, and burnt ends, this Midwestern city has become a mecca for barbeque lovers from all over the world. But how did Kansas City earn its title as the 'Barbeque Capital of the World'? Let's take a closer look at the smoky history of Kansas City barbeque.
The Early DaysThe origins of Kansas City barbeque can be traced back to the early 1800s when French fur traders settled in the area. They brought with them their love for cooking meat over an open flame, which eventually evolved into what we now know as barbeque.
However, it wasn't until the early 1900s that barbeque became a popular food in Kansas City. During this time, African American workers migrated to Kansas City to work in the stockyards and packing houses. They brought with them their own unique style of barbeque, which involved slow-cooking meat over a pit and basting it with a tomato-based sauce. This style of barbeque quickly gained popularity among the working-class population in Kansas City.
The Birth of Kansas City BarbequeIn 1908, Henry Perry opened up a stand in an alley in downtown Kansas City, selling slow-cooked ribs and brisket to workers during their lunch breaks. This is considered to be the birthplace of Kansas City barbeque.
Perry's barbeque was so popular that he eventually moved his stand to a storefront and became known as the 'Barbeque King'.As more and more people flocked to Perry's stand, other barbeque joints started popping up all over the city. Each one had its own unique style and sauce, but they all shared one thing in common - slow-cooked, smoky, and delicious barbeque.
The Influence of Arthur BryantIn the 1920s, a young man by the name of Arthur Bryant started working at Perry's stand. He quickly learned the secrets of Perry's barbeque and eventually took over the business when Perry retired. Bryant's barbeque was so popular that he had to move to a larger location to accommodate the growing number of customers. Bryant's barbeque became a favorite among celebrities and politicians, including President Harry S.
Truman. His fame and success helped put Kansas City barbeque on the map and solidified its reputation as some of the best barbeque in the country.
The Barbeque WarsAs more and more barbeque joints opened up in Kansas City, a friendly competition emerged among them. Each one claimed to have the best barbeque in town, and they were willing to do whatever it takes to prove it. This led to what is now known as the 'Barbeque Wars' - a battle for supremacy among Kansas City's top barbeque restaurants. One of the most famous rivalries was between Arthur Bryant's and Gates Bar-B-Q.
The two restaurants were located just a few blocks from each other and would often engage in playful banter and pranks to one-up each other. This competition only fueled the popularity of Kansas City barbeque and helped put it on the national stage.
The Influence of Kansas City Barbeque SocietyIn 1986, a group of barbeque enthusiasts in Kansas City formed the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS). Their goal was to promote and preserve the art of barbeque and to organize barbeque competitions. The KCBS has since grown into the largest organization of barbeque enthusiasts in the world, with over 20,000 members. The KCBS has played a significant role in making Kansas City barbeque a household name.
They have organized numerous barbeque competitions, including the famous American Royal World Series of Barbecue, which attracts over 500 teams from all over the world.
The Secret to Kansas City BarbequeSo what makes Kansas City barbeque so special? The secret lies in its slow-cooking process and its signature sauce. Most Kansas City barbeque joints use a combination of hickory and oak wood to smoke their meat for hours, resulting in a tender and smoky flavor. And when it comes to sauce, Kansas City is known for its thick, sweet, and tangy tomato-based sauce that is slathered on the meat before and after cooking.
The Legacy of Kansas City BarbequeToday, Kansas City is home to over 100 barbeque restaurants, each with its own unique style and sauce. The city has become a destination for foodies and barbeque enthusiasts from all over the world.
And while there may be debates about which restaurant serves the best barbeque in town, one thing is for sure - Kansas City has earned its title as the 'Barbeque Capital of the World'.