In this series, we reveal the secrets, histories and quirky bits of trivia behind your favorite foods.
You might think that the word "barbecue" originated in Texas—or one of the Carolinas or Memphis (depending on your preferred BBQ style). But barbecue's roots run deeper than that. In fact, the word can be traced back to long before the United States of America or the argument about which style of BBQ sauce is better, vinegar or ketchup, even existed.
Native Haitians are credited with constructing the original barbecue. They fashioned frameworks of sticks called barbacoas over which whole animals were slowly cooked. The twigs were green to prevent the wood from burning too quickly, and the result was a delicious, deep, smoky flavor. The word "barbacoa" probably comes from the Caribbean Taíno word "barabicu," which morphed into "barbecue."