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History of BBQ

Grilled meat placed on table

A favorite American pastime, a summer rite of passage, a tradition, a family affair, it doesn’t matter how you look at it, barbecues have a longstanding history, and for good reason! Who doesn’t love BBQ? But did you know BBQ actually began when a human ancestor called Homo erectus began cooking meat with fire about 1.8 million years ago, according to Planet Barbecue

The act of barbecue has since spread like wildfire and now includes specialty sauces, slow-smoked meats, and side dishes to make your mouth water. Here are some facts about the history of barbecue, according to The Spruce Eats

  • Tradition tells us that this is the origin of Barbecue, both in the process and in the name. The natives of the West Indies had a word for this process, “barbacoa”. It is generally believed that this is the origin of our modern word Barbecue, though there is some debate on the matter.
  • The process began to evolve with the migration of Europeans and Africans to the region of the Southern United States. European pigs and cattle were transplanted to the new world and became the primary meat source for the colonies, pork being the meat of choice in the South due to the ability of pigs to thrive with little care. The racks used to dry the meat were replaced with pits and smokehouses.
  • If we define barbecue as a process of cooking meat (or specifically pork) in pits then the inventors of this process are probably the Polynesians who have been masters of slow, pit-cooked pork for thousands of years. So we will have to leave the definition for another time.
  • The process of slowly cooking meat in early colonial times was often reserved for poor cuts of meat left for low-income peoples. Higher quality meats had no need for a process of cooking that would reduce the toughness of the meat. Throughout the south, Barbecue has long been an inexpensive food source, though labor-intensive.
  • One thing to remember that without a process of refrigeration, the meat had to be either cooked and eaten quickly after slaughter or preserved by either a spicing or smoking process. Traditionally spicing requires that large amounts of salt be used to dry the meat and lower the ability of contaminants to spoil the meat. Smoking in this period of time had much the same effect. The indigenous practitioners of Barbecue, cold smoked meat meaning that the meat was dried by exposure to the sun and preserved by the addition of smoke.

At Southbank Original Barbecue we pride ourselves on offering meaty favorites such as pulled pork, ribs, Tri-tip and homestyle creations like gumbo, meatloaf, lemon pepper chicken, and jambalaya. All of our BBQ is wood cooked, and our comfort food is homemade, served to order and delicious every time. We also make our own spice rubs, sauces, and side dishes. The unique options you have to choose from separate us from the competition. Southbank is OPEN for CARRYOUT ONLY! Checkout our carryout menu. We hope to open fully as soon as it is safe for our customers and employees. Stay safe and thank you! Check out our Facebook page, be sure to stop into Southbank Original Barbecue today for your carryout order, or call us: 630-385-2477.