To barbecue means to slow-cook meat at a low temperature for a long time over wood or charcoal. In America, barbecue (or BBQ) originated in the late 1800’s during Western cattle drives. The cowboys were fed the less than perfect cuts of meat, often brisket, a tough and stringy piece of meat that required five to seven hours of cooking to tenderize. Other barbecue meats used were pork butt, pork ribs, beef ribs, venison and goat.
However, barbecue was not invented in America and no one knows who invented the barbecue. The word ‘Barbecue’ might come from the Taino Indian word ‘barbacoa’ meaning meat-smoking apparatus. ‘Barbecue’ could have also originated from the French word “Barbe a queue” which means “whiskers-to-tail.” No one is sure of the correct origins of the word.
Who Invented the Charcoal Briquette?
Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer of Pennsylvania patented a design for charcoal briquettes in 1897. (See the image to the right) After World War One, the Zwoyer Fuel Company built charcoal briquette manufacturing plants in the United States with plants in Buffalo, NY and Fall River, MA.
There are stories circulating that Henry Ford invented the very first briquette in 1920 with the help of Thomas Edison. However, the 1897 patent obviously predates this and Ford and Edison both knew Zwoyer.
Ford is the man who popularized the gas-powered car in America and invented the assembly line for automobile manufacturing. Ford created a briquette from the wood scraps and sawdust from his car factory. E.G. Kingsford bought Ford’s briquette and placed it into commercial production.