Chow Town

What every Kansas Citian should know about Kansas City barbecue

“You’re from Kansas City?”


“Well tell me. Why is Kansas City so famous for barbecue? Especially since everybody knows that Texas has the best barbecue!”

Be civil. No Rib Rage. We know Kansas City is the Barbecue Capital of the World, but let’s give other states and cities their due. After all, Kansas City owes a great deal to barbecue entrepreneurs from Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and other states.

Regardless of your culinary lifestyle, when you say you’re from Kansas City, people expect you to know something about barbecue, especially Kansas City barbecue.

There’s so much to know that Doug Worgul wrote a book about it. Kevin Fossland and Martin Diggs are filming a 90 minute documentary about it. Hundreds of articles, blogs, radio and TV shows about our barbecue roll out annually. You owe it to yourself and your city to brush up on your KC barbecue literacy.

Here are some questions Chow Towners should be able to answer at the drop of a rib bone:

How many barbecue restaurants in Kansas City?

Is that more per capita than anywhere else?

When did the first barbecue restaurant open in Kansas City?

Who is Henry Perry, Arthur Bryant, Anthony Rieke, Ollie Gates, Jack Fiorella, Case Dorman, Rich Davis, Earl Quick, Johnny White, Ron Quick, Richard France, Gary Berbiglia, George Gates, Arzelia Gates, Hayward Spears, Grace Harris, Jake Edwards, Danny Edwards, Otis Boyd, L.C. Richardson, Joe Don Davidson, Lindsay Shannon, Tim Keegan, Bill Snead and Jeff and Joy Stehney?

Do Kansas City barbecue joints serve


kinds of barbecue meat, including goat, mutton, lamb, whole hog and pig snoot?

What’s a rub?

Is Kansas City barbecue sauce sweet?

What’s a smoke ring?

What are burnt ends?

What’s a rib sandwich?

What’s a rib tip?

What’s the difference between “long end” and “short end?”

Why did Count Basie spit on his ribs?

Where can you get blues with your barbecue?

What’s a pork butt?

What’s “pulled pork?”

What is “bark” on a butt?

What’s a yard bird?

Where and when is the World Series of Barbecue?

Is there any kosher barbecue in Kansas City?

What’s a shiner?

What’s a “beef fries?”

Who or what’s a “Z-Man?”

Why do Kansas City barbecue restaurants serve “St. Louis cut” ribs?

How did Kansas City become famous for barbecue?

Why do they call it “Kansas City Barbeque Society” since their members live all over the USA and world?

What’s the best barbecue restaurant in Kansas City?

What’s the oldest continuously operated barbecue restaurant in Kansas City?

How do you judge barbecue?

Some of the answers are moot and subjective. Some of the questions are tricky. All of the questions are a good test of your Kansas City barbecue literacy.

If you don’t know the answers, it’s time to do your homework before thousands of visitors flock to Kansas City this fall for the American Royal.

Be civil. Be literate.

Ardie Davis is an iconic figure in the barbecue community. He founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS’s Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on numerous food shows and writes for a variety of barbecue-related publications. He is also the author of a number of barbecue books, his most recent release “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”
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