- A map claiming to show the 10 “best” BBQ cities in America has torn the internet apart
- People are baffled by the inclusion of places like Seattle and Miami
- Not a single city in Texas managed to make the cut despite the region’s reputation
There are plenty of strategies you can deploy if you’re in the mood to rustle some jimmies on the internet. However, based on what I’ve seen over the past couple of years, there’s nothing more effective than whipping up a map of the United States that purportedly reflects America’s favorite things before watching people lose their minds.
Most of these exercises in antagonism are based on the questionable data and methodology that’s led people to believe there are states out there who love nothing more than chowing down on some circus candy on Halloween or gathering the family to watch the Christmas classic that is Edward Scissorhands whenever the holiday season rolls around.
Earlier this week, the internet was blessed with the latest in a long line of excuses to get irrationally angry about fairly trivial things courtesy of a map showing America’s “Top Cities For BBQ.” It claimed to be based on Trip Advisor ratings (I’ve received multiple messages from multiple reps for the outlet who want to make it very clear they had no involvement with the map’s creation,) but if you’re familiar with the areas of the country known for a love of smoking meats that puts Mark Zuckerberg’s to shame, you shouldn’t have trouble seeing why it’s managed to get people so heated.
you could teach a whole class on statistics using this chart and working through what went wrong pic.twitter.com/LRAS29ntc1
— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) May 13, 2021
While the BBQ scene in the United States has become increasingly splintered over the past couple of decades, the country has historically been broken down into the four most notable regional styles that are defined by their signature approach to the cooking method:
- Texas is known for its focus on beef (especially brisket) with a simple rub that lets the slow-cooked meat take center stage.
- Kansas City will cook up basically any kind of meat, which is usually covered in a spicy rub before being smoked and dunked in the tangy concoction most people associate with “BBQ sauce.”
- Carolina is all about that pork. However, the region has differing opinions on the best way to prepare it. Northern areas are partial to mopping various cuts of meat with a vinegar sauce while it’s cooking, but those to the south prefer to throw a whole hog on the smoker and pair it with a mustard sauce once it’s shredded.
- Memphis is also a pork lover’s paradise. However, using sauce is somewhat sacrilegious, as the ribs and pulled pork the area is known for derive the bulk of their unique flavor from the complex and unique dry rubs that coat them.
While the Carolinas are represented on the map, the same cannot be said for the three other areas—which is especially puzzling when you consider Seattle and Miami managed to make the cut. As a result, people were more than happy to sound off when the cursed image started making the rounds.
A best BBQ map without Kansas City or a single city in Texas is just not worth taking seriously https://t.co/uwWqQ6HlGT
— hannah reilly🦋🏙 (@hannahreilly23) May 13, 2021
— Houston (@VisitHouston) May 13, 2021
Yes, we've seen the "Top Cities for BBQ in the US" @TripAdvisor map.
Our official statement is "LOL."
— Texas Monthly (@TexasMonthly) May 13, 2021
piling texas brisket onto this map until it is completely obscured from my vision https://t.co/RJ7s9l6yc6
— bb ghost (@emilywithcurls) May 13, 2021
A couple of online detectives attempted to figure out how this ungodly creation came into existence in the first place, and the explanation seems to boil down to the fact that whoever whipped it up has a grasp on statistics that leaves an incredible amount to be desired.
They took a list of the top 75 largest cities in the US.
Then, they looked at the Trip Advisor ratings for every BBQ restaurant in each of those 75 cities.
— #2 Dad (@animatedGeoff) May 13, 2021
Additionally, they have a sub list on the blog where TX and TN rank very highly (Cities w/ Highest number of 4.5+ star restaurants) pic.twitter.com/yCfct8uqrS
— #2 Dad (@animatedGeoff) May 13, 2021
The category error on this map is that five-star reviews are mostly a function of expectations, not some sort of standardized national index of quality.
If you found Texas-caliber BBQ in Seattle, you’d probably give it five stars, too! https://t.co/JDnMwA8HQu
— Yoni Appelbaum (@YAppelbaum) May 13, 2021
However, if all press is indeed good press, something tells me they’re perfectly fine with how it all played out.