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Thread: What explains the popularity of barbecue today?

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    Moderator Chris Allingham's Avatar
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    What explains the popularity of barbecue today?

    Recently someone asked me, "What explains the popularity of barbecue right now?" I remember how barbecue really seemed to take off about 10 year ago when BBQ competitions started appearing on television shows, but the whole "barbecue thing" seems to be hyper-popular (if that's a word) right now.

    Barbecue is everywhere. Anthony Bourdain and Guy Fieri dedicate entire episodes of their TV shows to barbecue. You've got BBQ Pitmasters on television. Where I live in the SF Bay Area, over the past 4-5 years we've had chain BBQ restaurants like Dickey's of Texas come to town. You've got barbecue-influenced foods showing up on the menus of non-barbecue restaurants. At the time of this writing, Outback Steakhouse is featuring a new "Moonshine BBQ Menu". Arby's and Costco are selling brisket sandwiches. There's a proliferation of barbecue sauces and barbecue-flavored items at the grocery store, including dipping sauces, pre-cooked and shredded meats, and snack foods. A guy got a deal on the TV show Shark Tank for boneless pork ribs and is making a fortune. People are standing in line at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX for 5 hours waiting to try Aaron Franklin's brisket.

    Are we in a "barbecue bubble"? Is barbecue becoming too popular? Is this a fad that will "pop" just like the "dot com bubble" of the late 90's and the "housing bubble" of 2008? And if that happens, will that be a good or bad thing?

    What are your thoughts? Why is barbecue getting so popular right now? What forces are driving the trend? And where is barbecue headed? Onward and upward? Over a cliff? Somewhere else?

    Interested in your thoughts,
    Chris

  2. #2
    TVWBB Diamond Member Bob Sample's Avatar
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    I've seen the trend in BBQ has coincided with the development of the backyard as a living space not just a place to grow grass. In the summer my house is just a place to sleep and most of our time is spent on the back deck. This has brought on an abundance of highly priced furniture, grills and smokers. The smokers are now designed to be idiot proof, plug it in or turn on the gas,set the temp dial and your a champion BBQer.
    TV tends to follow trends not make them but the developers are very good at seeing a trend in the early stages. They do help bring it quickly into the mainstream.
    It is also a retro thing. As the baby boomers get older they look back fondly on the simple life of their childhood and one of the strongest and fondest memories I have is family gatherings in our yard with dad burning the crap out of some chicken and burgers.
    Most food trends seem to plateau in a few years and then only the best will be left when it's run it's course. A few years ago chipotle was the big thing, chipotle was in everything. The grocery store had 10 different brands of chipotle hot sauce and now there' sonny one or two and it's back to being that powder when you want a bit of heat.
    Good BBQ is here to stay but I think those over sauced tasteless PP sandwiches will soon be a thing of the past. I hope.
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    TVWBB Hall of Fame Dwain Pannell's Avatar
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    I believe TV has greatly influenced the popularity of the "sport" of food in general -- not just BBQ. Food Network, Cooking Channel, the morning shows and more.

    The backyard as a living space has definitely made living outside enjoyable which has also been propped up by TV channels (HGTV and others).

    The computer and especially social media and the internet have also contributed with sites like Pinterest, FoodNetwork, Saveur, etc along with the numerous cooking forums. I see something online here and on other sites and it sparks an idea that I try.

    ...and the restaurants have increased their "flavor profiles" as well (a phrase I learned by watchin TV).

    We've seen great cooks (Julia Childs, Jacques Pépin, etc) as children that have taught us to quit eating bland food. We now see Pitmasters and Bobby Flay and others cooking meals on grills/smokers.

    As adults we've brought that home and replicated it for our families. We snap a photo and post it on Facebook thereby increasing the exposure of great food.

    When my family tastes one of Jamie Purveyance's recipes explode with flavor in their mouth they can't quit talkin about it. Then a month or so later they are texting and calling for recipes and techniques. (Tony's fajitas are a very popular topic).
    Last edited by Dwain Pannell; 05-26-2014 at 05:38 AM.

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    I agree with all the reasons mentioned but i also think there is a cost aspect. Doing your own BBQ is way cheaper than going out and is more fun. I have always like t cook and grill and BBQ so there really hasn't been any type of increase for me. I like cooking more than actually eating for the most part and there have been plenty of times i will grill or smoke up a masterpiece of a meal only eating sample bites here and there to test for flavor as i go and never getting a plate of my own. Seeing people smile makes it all worthwhile, especially when they say this pulled pork is better than what i had yesterday that was catered from buzz & ned's

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    TVWBB 1-Star Olympian Rich Dahl's Avatar
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    I think the economy and the ever growing exposure might have had a lot to do with the growth of BBQ/grilling. When the recession started and many folks were out of work or fearful of losing their jobs many of the families that were going to restaurants 4 or 5 times a week stopped doing that as a cost savings measure and started eating at home.

    Along with that the growth of the food network which did have a few outdoor cooking shows. Some of the chefs like Bobby Flay showed us that grilling could be something much more then just hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken and with the basic items found in your local grocery store, Most homes had a grill of some sort hanging out in the backyard so why not do what they were seeing on TV to have some fun and save some money too.

    My lovely wife subscribes to every woman’s magazine on the planet and even those are loaded with bbq and grilling ideas, even DIY outdoor kitchens. Everywhere you look there is something going on about outdoor cooking.

    Also look at the quality of the grills and smokers that are out there compared to say ten years ago. Just amazing difference in quality and performance.

    Is it a trend, I think as the economy improves if it ever does you‘ll see it level off. But I think there are a lot of people who have discovered the hobby of BBQ and how much fun it is and the great meals you can make, I’m sure it will live on.
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    TVWBB 1-Star Olympian John Solak's Avatar
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    I'm just talking from my experience and what I am seeing. I tried charcoal cooking in the early 90's and had no clue what I was doing and it showed in my cooking and I just gave up and cooked on a gas grill. Fast forward 20 years. I bought me an Orion cooker, its a no brainer type of cooker and was trying to find things to cook on it on the internet. I discovered the BBQ Pit Boys site on YouTube. It was fairly new at the time and they showed how to to set up a Weber grill indirect and I saw what they were cooking and so I bought me a Weber Gold to try my hand a Charcoal cooking. I have been hooked ever since.

    The reason BBQ/ grilling is so popular because it is everywhere in media, how to bbq something is pretty easy to find out how to do now and it takes the mystery out of it now so it is not as intimidating. But I do think it is on a declining trend. A lot of BBQ forums that used to be bustling with lots of members are barley hanging on. Too bad too, a lot of those little guys have a bunch of great content on their site.
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    Moderator Chris Allingham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayRob View Post
    I like cooking more than actually eating...Seeing people smile makes it all worthwhile, especially when they say this pulled pork is better than what i had yesterday that was catered from buzz & ned's
    Sounds like you need to be a chef or restaurateur or caterer!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Allingham View Post
    Sounds like you need to be a chef or restaurateur or caterer!
    Don't think i haven't thought about it. Unfortunately earlier in my life i was guide for fly fishing and rock climbing and while i loved the sport, making it my job kind of hurt my passion. I would be out at the cliff or the stream and run into some clients and had to put my guide face on for a little while. I have since gotten back into fly fishing after moving from the area i was guiding but the climbing piece is still not something i do often but that is mainly because of the distance needed to travel.

    My fiancé and I were discussing the possibility of catering though since I am currently getting my teaching certification and will have summers free to do what i want and catering would give me a little extra play money......guess we will see what happens

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    Quote Originally Posted by JayRob View Post
    Don't think i haven't thought about it. Unfortunately earlier in my life i was guide for fly fishing and rock climbing and while i loved the sport, making it my job kind of hurt my passion. I would be out at the cliff or the stream and run into some clients and had to put my guide face on for a little while. I have since gotten back into fly fishing after moving from the area i was guiding but the climbing piece is still not something i do often but that is mainly because of the distance needed to travel.

    My fiancé and I were discussing the possibility of catering though since I am currently getting my teaching certification and will have summers free to do what i want and catering would give me a little extra play money......guess we will see what happens
    I have first hand experience in turning a passion into a job. Since I was a child of 7, I was the family photographer. I developed my first roll of film at 10. I majored in photography in college and eventually purchased a camera store. The photo industry tanked around 2000 and I had to close my dream store. I rarely pick up a camera anymore.

    Now my friends all tell me I should start a catering business and I refuse!
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    I think it's been popular for a long time, but regional.
    The advent of Web and how it has has connected everyone world-wide, is the difference these days.
    Also we are more mobile in today's world, experiencing first-hand the wonderful BBQ from around the planet and taking those ideas back to our neighborhoods.

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