The summer weather is just starting to peek out more than not, and before we know it, we’ll officially be in barbecue season. It’s something many of us look forward to every year because the food always tastes better off the grill. While it’s universally understood that barbecuing is better, not everyone is on the same page about which barbecue style is the best: from the Carolinas to the deep south, regionalism in barbecue supremacy has drawn some deep divides in American food culture. Thankfully, someone came out with a map of the most popular BBQ style in each state, and honestly, there’s a controversial winner.
BBQ Revolt wanted to find out once and for all the reigning BBQ style across the United States. “With summer upon us, we thought we’d take a look at one of America’s favorite past times to see what the data says about BBQ styles, meats, and what city can claim the title of BBQ capital of America,” they wrote.
The site notes that the barbecue styles are vast and diverse across the country, noting regional styles in places like St Louis, Kentucky, and Alabama. But for the purpose of this map in finding the most popular, the site focused on the most popular styles overall to determine one winner.
The five BBQ styles in the map:
Texas-style: “The lone star state specializes in slow-and-low smoked brisket with a simple salt and pepper rub. Light tomato sauce is optional.”
Kansas City-style: “A wide range of meats compliments this BBQ style, and it is coated with a thick and sweet sauce of tomato, molasses, and brown sugar.”
North Carolina-style: “The meat of choice here is usually pork shoulder. A thin vinegar and spiced sauce are used while grilling and served after.”
South Carolina-style: “In the south, they favor the whole hog, and their German heritage is evident in the tangy mustard-based sauce used there.”
Memphis-style: “Pork rules supreme here in the form of ribs and pulled pork. True Memphis style relies on a dry rub that consists of paprika and up to 40 other spices.”
The site took a look at Google Trends and Google Search data to determine which BBQ style of the five was the favorite in each state. And coming in first place with 33 states choosing this style as its top favorite was Texas-style — which is great, to be sure, but is sure to piss off Kansas-City style obsessives.
BBQ Revolt also dug into data to determine which cut of meat is the most popular across the United States, looking at Google search data. It’s no surprise, given the winning BBQ style, that brisket won that title.
The data also pointed to one city that can lay claim to the BBQ capital of the United States. BBQ Revolt looked at data from Trip Advisor to determine which city had the most BBQ restaurants, and there was one very clear winner: Houston, with a total of 167 BBQ restaurants.
“Los Angeles and San Antonio take the 2nd and 3rd spots on the podium,” they report. “Cities in Texas make up 40% of the top 10.”
It sounds like the will of the people have spoken — and Texas-style brisket remains supreme. Sorry, the Carolinas! Better luck next time.