History of Barbecue Sauce

BY: Richard Wachtel
Published: March 16, 2011

Hi Grilling with Rich Fans,

So for the first post of the Barbecue Sauce Wednesday’s I thought that in-order to really appreciate an amazing barbecue sauce and how important it is has become to us in the barbecue world both professionally and non-professionally you  must really go in-depth and learn about the history and the different styles of Barbecue sauce. And since we are going to be starting to review barbecue sauces i wanted to learn as much as possible. So I hope that you enjoy this post.

Don’t forget to check back next Wednesday for our First Sauce Review: Sam Dog BBQ Sauce we can’t wait to try it!!! and if you are interested in sponsering this series please send us an e-mail to info@grillingwithrich.com and we will get back to you right away.

By the way if you are interested in the history of barbecue I suggest checking out my post from February! it is an instant Classic!

For those of you who are new to the barbecue world  Barbecue sauce (which is also abbreviated BBQ sauce) is a flavoring sauce or condiment ranging from a watery to very thick consistency. Barbecue sauce was obviously it was created as an accompaniment to barbecued foods. While it can be applied to any food, people usually use it to top meat after cooking or during barbecuing, grilling, or baking. Traditionally it has been a favorite for pork or beef ribs and chicken.

There are three landmark periods in the history of barbecue sauce. While there is no exact time, place and person to be credited with the invention of barbecue sauce, historians due in fact link its use back to America in the 1600s with its spread to Europe over the next 200 years. The original uses of barbecue sauce were used to mask harsh gamy flavors in foods that were new to the colonial settlers. Some others trace barbecue sauces origins to the end of the 15th century, when Christopher Columbus brought a “sauce” from Spain.

The most common ingredients in barbecue sauce typically include: ketchup, vinegar, sugar, garlic, onion and mustard. But, it’s the consistency and variations that create regional differences coast to coast.

In a previous post about barbecue sauces, I went over the different variations that are available in the United States, so  I am not going to repeat it I am just going to just go list the different types: East Carolina Sauce; Lexington Dip (a.k.a. Western Carolina Dip or Piedmont Dip); Kansas City; Memphis style; South Carolina Mustard Sauce; Texas and finally Alabama style sauce.

In America, the first commercially-produced barbecue sauce was made by the Louis Maull Co., in 1923, but the first nationally distributed barbecue sauce did not appear until 1951, when Heinz released a product in the United States.

Maull’s Barbecue Sauce is the main product of the Louis Maull Company, begun in St. Louis, Missouri by Louis Maull in 1897 when he began selling groceries out of a horse-drawn wagon. The company was incorporatedin 1905 as the Louis Maull Cheese and Fish company, which wholesaled cheese and fish to St. Louis restaurants and grocery stores from a downtown storefront at 8th and Spruce Streets in St. Louis. The company began manufacturing food in 1920 and introduced a line of Maull’s-branded condiments .

Maull's BBQ Sauce

In 1926, Louis Maull created a recipe for barbecue sauce that people liked very much. They told their friends about it and, little by little, with very little fanfare (and no advertising), the word about “Maull’s” barbecue sauce spread. As years went by, it became more and more popular, and the demand eventually increased to the point that the company had to devote itself almost exclusively to making barbecue sauce. That continues to be the case today.   In 1997, the Louis Maull Company celebrated its 100th Anniversary. It’s a tribute to a man who founded a family business, that’s still a family business, which has survived all these years competing with big national-brand companies. (hopefully The Maull Company will submit their sauce for review, we would love to try it and review it for the series)

After the Maull company started to mass produce barbecue sauces, many supermarket chains and regional restaurants started to market their own brands of barbecue sauce, so much so that regional differences in sauce flavors and preparations were taken into account.

Interesting BBQ Sauce Factoid: Did you know that prior to the invention of effective refrigeration, a common problem for many was how to preserve meat for long periods. So in North Carolina, a common method was to “cure” meat, particularly pork, was to create a mixture of vinegar, water, salt, and peppers (still the definitive North Carolina-style BBQ sauce). Vinegar was employed as the preservative, as a cheap and plentiful bactericide. Hence the North Carolina-style BBQ sauce was born.

Barbecue sauce is also very popular in not just America. In South America, barbecue sauce is a bit different and is called  asado, which is similar to barbecue in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and in Peru Barbecue sauce is called chimichurri which is a parsley based green sauce used also as a condiment on the table, a marinade, and a grilling sauce. Chimichurri is commonly used on beef, lamb, pork, goat, fowl, venison and root vegetables. In Brazil, the typical barbecue sauce is called vinagrete which is made with vinegar, olive oil, tomatoes, parsley and onions.  In In Australia, barbecue sauce is made very simply by combing tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

Heinz's BBQ Sauce

Barbecue sauces are generally used with fish and meats. Thinner sauces are used in the marinading process to keep the meat moist during cooking and extra sauce is usually served with the meat. Thicker sauces are usually used in the final minutes of cooking to apply an extra glaze to the meat. The meat is usually coated in a dry rub, cooked and the sauce is slathered on the meat with a brush or mop. [If you are interested in purchasing a bbq sauce mop you can go to BBQ Pro Shop to find your's today!!]

Barbecue Sauce Mop

In doing my research on this topic, I found this great Timeline of some important events in the history of Barbecue Sauce


Kraft's Original BBQ Sauce

Similar to the emergence of micro-brewery’s for beer, the variety of BBQ sauces availabe has literally exploded in the past 10 years. We really look forward to this series in reviewing all these great barbecue sauces every Wenesday’s . I hope that you will enjoy our newest Grilling Adventure!

Don’t forget to check back next Wednesday for our First Sauce Review: Sam Dog BBQ Sauce we can’t wait to try it!!! and if you are interested in sponsering this series please send us an e-mail to info@grillingwithrich.com and we will get back to you right away.

See you next week!

~Grilling with Rich ~

Here are some Related articles that we think that you would be interested in:

Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Barbecue & Grilling 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards

Barbecue Sauces, Dry Rubs & Marinades by the BBQ Pit Boys

Here are some of the great images that were used in this post!








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Born and raised in Long Island New York Richard Wachtel has developed a passion for all things about barbecue and grilling, social media and also just having fun. Now living right outside the Nations Capital: Washington D.C., Richard Wachtel loves to read, write and learn about all things barbecue and grilling and digital marketing.


Category: BBQ Sauce Reviews, Latest News, Reviews