Eric, couldn't agreee with you more. I often try to educate folks on the history and orgin of BBQ.
The United States Department of Agriculture says barbecue is any meat "cooked by the direct action of heat resulting from the burning of hardwood or the hot coals therefrom for a sufficient period to assume the usual characteristics" including the formation of a brown crust and a weight loss of at least thirty percent.
When the Spanish arrived in the Americas, they found the Taino Indians of the West Indies cooking meat and fish over a pit of coals on a framework of green wooden sticks. The Spanish spelling of the Indian name for that framework was "barbacoa". Both the name and method of cooking found their way to North America, where George Washington noted in his diary of 1769 that he "went up to Alexandria to a "barbicue."
Noah Webster's dictionary insists that the one and only correct spelling is barbecue. But, as another US president, Andrew Jackson, noted, "It's a ****ed poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word ." He would be mighty pleased to know that over the years folks have been enjoying barbicue, barbique, barbeque, Bar-B-Que, Bar-B-Cue, Bar-B-Q, BBQ, Cue, and just plain Q.
The Spanish explorer DeSoto introduced hogs to Florida and Alabama about 1540. The settlers at Jamestown brought swine with them in 1607 and soon thereafter Virginia enacted a law making it illegal to discharge a firearm at a barbecue! The creatures thrived in the wilds of the warm Southern woodlands where cattle perished. By the time of the War Between the States, hogs had been domesticated, and pork had become the principal meat of the South. Not surprisingly, pork has been synonymous with Southern barbecue ever since.
Indeed, barbecues have long been a popular social occasion in the South. But, done in the traditional way, the making of barbecue was hard work. A pit was dug in the ground the day before the gathering and filled with hardwood. The wood was burned down to coals before whole hogs, skewered on poles, were hung over the pit. The pitmasters sat up through the night, turning the hogs on their spits. The following afternoon when the guests arrived, the crisp skin - Mr. Brown - was removed and the cooked meat - the divine Miss White - was pulled in lumps from the carcass before being slathered with a favorite finishing sauce. That's why, to this very day, a social affair centered around pork barbecue is affectionately called a Pig Pickin.
Some folks might consider barbecuing a whole hog to be a tad bit of overkill for a fellow with a sudden hankering for a sandwich. But, without benefit of electricity and refrigeration in bygone years, portioned cuts of fresh pork were nonexistent. A solution to this culinary dilemma was provided by a pair of entrepreneurs in Lexington, North Carolina when they hit upon the idea of barbecuing a couple of pigs over open pits in the town square on Saturdays and selling it. Tents soon popped up and the first commercial barbecue joint was born. The boys there in Lexington are still making some mighty fine barbecue in those barbecue joints. At last count, the city had one for every thousand citizens - men, women, and children included!