History of Barbecue

Barbecue as North Carolinians know it today has a long, dense history. This timeline will explore the origins of N.C. barbecue.

1550-06-06 16:34:17

Spanish Settlers Arrive on East Coast

Settlers use the word "barbacoa" to describe the way Native Americans cooked meat over an open fire. Spanish settlers also introduce pork to natives.

1750-09-08 12:12:05

Cornbread emerges as a side dish

Since corn is more abundant than wheat in the South, this dish became a classic side dish for pork barbecue.

1810-08-17 02:10:57

Barbecue enters politics

Barbecue becomes a popular food for political campaign events and celebrations. Usually, the barbecue was free for attendees and served in town squares.

1814-07-07 02:41:05

Pig Pickin'

Before the Civil War, Pig Pickin's became popular in the American South. Plantation owners would roast barbecue for large festivals and hold smaller "Pig Pickin's" for slaves, where barbecue is picked at by each diner right off the coals.

1865-04-15 12:16:34

Civil War Barbecue

On average, southerners ate 5 pounds of pork for every pound of beef during the Civil War Period.

1899-04-01 00:00:00

First barbecue joint

The Charlotte Observer reported recently that the first barbecue stand was advertised in April 1899, over 20 years before more mainstream joints opened.

1900-10-06 01:09:36

Barbecue moves north

After the Civil War ended in 1865, a large number of African Americans moved north and brought barbecue with them

1920-10-08 12:01:57

Swicegood and Weaver Tent

Sid Weaver and Jess Swicegood set up barbecue tents in Lexington, N.C. across from the courthouse. This set the precedent for barbecue joints starting in county seat and tobacco market towns.

1930-01-01 00:00:00

Stamey's Barbecue Opens

Warner Stamey opens Stamey's barbecue in Greensboro, N.C. and sets precedent for future barbecue joints in the area.

1950-01-01 00:00:00

Barbecue grows

Barbecue takes over the south as one of the most popular forms of dining. Due to the relative ease to start a barbecue joint, by 1960, barbecue restaurants were the most popular type of restaurant in N.C. towns.

1968-03-07 00:00:00

Newman V. Piggie Park Enterprise

Supreme Court hearing, ruled Maurice Bessinger's chain of five barbecue restaurants in Columbia, S.C. unlawfully discriminated against African-American patrons.

1970-01-01 00:00:00

Fast Food Fury

McDonald's and other fast food restaurants move in and recruit those who once ate at small-town barbecue restaurants. For awhile, barbecue struggles, and restaurants become much more regional.

2005-01-01 00:00:00

The Smoke Rises Again

Barbecue regains popularity with the creation of the NC Barbecue Society, founded by Jim Early in 2005 (www.ncbbqsociety.com). UNC Professor John Shelton Reed popularized the cuisine even more in 2008 with his publication of "Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue," and Robert Moss recently studied the history of southern barbecue and published his book "Barbecue: The History of an American Institution" in 2010.

History of Barbecue

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