For several reasons, the pig became an omnipresent food staple in the South. Pigs were a low-maintenance and convenient food source for Southerners. In the pre-Civil War period, Southerners ate, on average, five pounds of pork for every one pound of beef. Pigs could be put out to root in the forest and caught when food supply became low. These semi-wild pigs were tougher and stringier than modern hogs, but were a convenient and popular food source. Every part of the pig was utilized-- the meat was either eaten immediately or cured for later consumption, and the ears, organs and other parts were transformed into edible delicacies. Pig slaughtering became a time for celebration, and the neighborhood would be invited to share in the largesse. The traditional Southern barbecue grew out of these gatherings.
Ah, the second explanation. Could very well be. Either way, I like it.
Actually, it's really funny, because even though I like pork, and a pulled pork sandwich (with cole slaw) is high on my list of "world's best foods", my favorite all time barbecue item is beef ribs. Nice, slow-smoked, and slathered in sauce. There was only one place I've ever been to that offered this, and they ended up shutting down.
Now I have to learn to make them myself. Thing is, beef ribs are slowly disappearing from store shelves, too. This is really getting annoying.
I really don't know why I prefer them to pork ribs. Not that I don't love pork ribs. I just like the big beef ones more.