Chow Town

It’s time to bone up on your KC barbecue IQ

Z-Man fan Zachary Krause
Z-Man fan Zachary Krause Special to The Star

When tourists and conventioneers come to town, they are surprised that our little fly-over city has more to offer than they imagined.

They see hills, trees, parks, abundant green space, remarkable architecture and a real cityscape instead of a little town on a boring gray prairie like L. Frank Baum described Dorothy’s Uncle Henry and Aunt Em’s Kansas landscape.

One expectation our guests bring to Chow Town is to experience barbecue excellence. After all, we’re the home of the world’s largest barbecue contest and the world’s largest barbecue organization. Plus, the world’s best-selling barbecue sauce was invented here. We’re called the Barbecue Capital of the World.

Given Chow Town’s barbecue fame and credentials, we have a responsibility to know some Kansas City barbecue basics. Tourists expect us to know these things whether we like barbecue or not.

Test yourself with the following questions. Answers provided, so you’ll get it right the next time if you missed any. Think of yourself as a Kansas City ambassador with a commitment to making our guests know that they are welcome.


1) All Kansas City barbecue sauces are sweet.

2) KC is the birthplace of blues, brews and barbecue.

3) Burnt ends are a unique KC classic favorite.

4) Kansas City has too many barbecue joints.

5) The blues and jazz are so popular in Kansas City that you’ll get both with your barbecue all over town.

6) Although KC hosts the first kosher barbecue contest sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, the city does not have a kosher barbecue restaurant.

7) Kansas City is home to the Barbecue Hall of Fame, featuring a museum, international barbecue archives library, state-of-the-art barbecue restaurant and Wall of Fame.

8) The Z-Man sandwich at Joe’s Kansas City Barbecue is named in honor of all customers with a Z in their name.

9) For the world’s best barbecue, take Interstate 35 south to Dallas.

10) St. Louis-cut rib slabs, invented in KC, are untrimmed pork spareribs.

Multiple Choice

1) He is known as the Father of Kansas City Barbecue.

a) Henry Perry

b) Arthur Bryant

c) George Gates

d) None of the above

2) She is known as the Mother of Kansas City Barbecue.

a) Amazing Grace Harris

b) Arzelia Gates

c) Flower of the Flames Karen Putnam

d) None of the above

3) When you’re hosting a barbecue dinner for a mixed vegetarian/omnivore group of friends, your best KC restaurant option is:

a) Char Bar

b) Gates

c) Brobeck’s

d) Arthur Bryant’s

4) Chow Towners expect these three basic sides in KC barbecue restaurants:

a) Okra, mac & cheese, Cobb salad

b) Fries, slaw, beans

c) Caviar, crab salad, smoked oysters

5) Barbecue judges judge with:

a) A knife

b) A fork

c) Their hands

d) A & B above

Fill in the blanks

1) Scholar, family & child psychiatrist, Barbecue Hall of Fame inductee, Dr. Rich Davis, invented _________________.

2) Today’s KC “burnt ends” are smoked crispy/juicy cubes of meat from a beef _________.

3) The oldest continuously operated barbecue restaurant in KC today is _______________.

4) Most of the new KC barbecue restaurants, rubs and sauces originate from competition ___________________.

5) Kansas City’s once-famous stockyards, a primary source of local barbecue in the early 20th century, was located in the _________________.

It’s time to bone up on your barbecue literacy. There’s a lot to learn — and it’s fun!

Quiz Answers


1) False; 2) False; 3) True; 4) False; 5) False; 6) True; 7) BBQ HOF true; amenities false; 8) False; 9) False and 10) False.

Multiple Choice

1) a; 2) d; 3) a; 4) b and 5) c.

Fill in the blanks

1) KC Masterpiece Barbecue Sauce; 2) brisket; 3) Rosedale; 4) barbecue teams and 5) West Bottoms.

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 .