Chow Town

Branding Kansas City: What happened to barbecue postcards?

Imagine this barbecue feast from Slap’s on a postcard. Yum!
Imagine this barbecue feast from Slap’s on a postcard. Yum! Special to The Star

“Kansas City knows barbecue because it is Ground Zero, America’s premier melting pot of smoke and sauce, the headquarters of hickory. Cow Town Central, the Capital of ‘Que.” Vince Staten & Greg Johnson, “Real Barbecue”

Barbecue is Kansas City’s brand. We are also known for jazz, baseball, football, the arts and soccer, but when you say “Kansas City,” people think, “Barbecue.”

We must not take our barbecue fame for granted, especially these days when New York and other cities strive to eclipse us.

The Kansas City Barbeque Society boldly proclaims that barbecue is “America’s Cuisine.” Although Congress has yet to affirm that designation, few will argue that barbecue is Kansas City’s cuisine.

The major way we protect our fame is to continuously cook and serve top-quality barbecue in more than a hundred venues throughout the metropolitan area. Our metro area barbecue contests, plus books, newspaper and magazine articles, the Barbecue Hall of Fame and video promotions such as this one KC on KC BBQ by KJO Media, along with the occasional food celebrity visits that get worldwide attention, also play an essential role.

Another inexpensive but effective tool for maintaining Kansas City’s barbecue fame is with postcards.

One could argue that today’s social media make postcards irrelevant. Why send a postcard from Kansas City when texting or tweeting is faster and cheaper?

It needn’t be either/or. You can send a shot of a plate of barbecue from Q39, Slap’s or elsewhere instantly, and you can snail mail a postcard too. The problem today is that you won’t find Kansas City barbecue postcards in local drugstores and gift shops.

Here’s what we need:

▪ Chow Town barbecue restaurant postcards sold on location.

▪ Mouth-watering photos of Kansas City ribs, rib tips, burnt ends, sandwiches and sides on postcards at gift stores and stores that sell barbecue products.

▪ Postcards featuring historic Kansas City barbecue pioneers such as Henry Perry, Arthur Bryant, Rich Davis, Anthony Rieke, Fatty Sharp, Earl Quick and others.

▪ A vintage-style generic “Kansas City” postcard featuring Kansas City barbecue restaurant signs, ribs and sauces.

Reviving vintage barbecue postcards and rolling out new ones will help sustain our claim to barbecue fame. The more the better!

Ardie Davis 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 Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on food shows and writes for barbecue-related publications. His most recent releases are America’s Best BBQ (Revised Edition), with chef Paul Kirk, and Barbecue Lover’s Kansas City Style .