The long history of barbecue in South Carolina is more than you can bite off in one sitting. It’s too iconic, too delicious and too integral to our state’s cuisine.
You can’t conjure South Carolina cooking without picturing a heaping plate of barbecue. It’s at tailgates, church events and harks back to 17th century political rallies. What sauce you picture is a different story – and often a point of conentious debate. We won’t hold it against you if you slather your pork with ketchup, tomato or vinegar and pepper sauce. Around the belly of the state, however, mustard-base reigns.
Back in 1988, two University of South Carolina geographers published a book that included a map of the state broken down into four barbecue sauce regions. It was only one page in a volume largely devoted to the state’s land features. But it was the one that got all the attention.
“This doggone map has gotten more notoriety than anything else in the book,” Charles Kovacik, one of the geographers, told The State. “I glean from it that people like barbecue.”
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The Wall Street Journal ran a story on the map. Countless people starting calling in with barbecue questions, a far cry from geological inquiries about things like erosion or soil layers.
“Geographers like to put things in regions, areas that are similar,” Kovacik said. “We wondered what would catch people’s eyes – barbecue.”
Erin Shaw, firstname.lastname@example.org