What's the best barbecue style? Here are some favorites...

Mmmm...smells like summer

Tempers run hot over heated discussions (sorry, couldn't resist) when it comes to the ultimate barbecue style. It's a very personal thing, often linked with childhood memories or geographic location. Others fall in love while traveling and never look back. Distinguished by sauce, cut of meat, and cooking methods, regional American barbecue styles are fairly varied, and the ongoing debate over the "true" style isn't ending anytime soon. What team are you rooting for?

How sweet (and spicy) it is

Sweet Alabama

Not necessarily the most well-known barbecue style, this small-time contender takes its "cues" from Memphis, generally combining pork shoulder and ribs in a tomato-based sauce. (They also dabble in smoking pork and chicken.) Its big claim to fame is its white sauce, invented in 1925 by Big Bob Gibson, the original Alabama barbecue pioneer. It's a standout amongst the other sauces, made by mixing mayonnaise, vinegar, and pepper, and is best when dabbed generously over chicken. As with other states, southern and northern style barbecues tend to vary slightly: the north favors the illustrious white sauce, as well as Carolina-influenced vinegar variations, and the south loves their mustard sauce and a heavy smoked flavor.

Texas - don't hold 'em - eat 'em

Texas sized sizzle

Texans are proud of their barbecue prowess, and with good reason. Such a large state plays host to several varieties, a nod to its mixed cultural origins and massive immigration. That being said, the most highly recognized style is the one that originated in Europe. Nineteenth century Germans and Czech butchers chose to smoke their leftover meat or make it into sausages, not because they wanted an unadulterated meat taste, but rather out of convenience and necessity. By making into smoked brisket or sausages, they could prolong the life of the beef. Sauces in Texas (known as "mops" or basting sauces) are used to add flavor when cooking, so don't expect a big ole' squirt of sauce sitting on top of your brisket. And do expect a cocked eyebrow or two if you request some.

If you've got a hankering for more exotic cuts of meat, head down to south Texas, where they favor the barbacoa style barbecue. Made by slow-roasting a cow head in a deep pit for 12 hours or so, this economical style is almost extinct, but can still be found at Vera's Backyard Bar-B-Que. East Texans prefer more tender cuts of beef that can easily be made into sandwiches, and also enjoy a variety of sides with their 'cue, like fried okra, green beans, and stick-to-your-ribs mac and cheese.

Talk about stick to your ribs!

North Carolina - nothing could be finer

North Carolinians are divided between two distinctly different barbecue styles: "Eastern" and "Lexington Dip" or "Piedmont" style (how you refer to the latter depends on where you live). The Eastern style is characterized by the practice of using the whole hog. That's right—they cook the sucker, then chop it all up and mix it with a vinegar and pepper sauce. Eaten with "cracklin'" (crispy pig skin, for those not in the know), this style should only be consumed when wearing expandable pants. In this instance, the sauce is not overly sweet nor overpowering. It's used to baste the pig while cooking, and lightly mixed in prior to serving to accentuate the flavor of the meat.

In the west, the Piedmont relies on pork shoulder smothered in a tomato-based vinegar sauce. Instead of pigskin on the side, you'll be treated to coleslaw, which is often slapped atop a pulled pork sammy. The Piedmont style is an aberration of the original eastern vinegar-based sauce; it's essentially the same thing with the addition of ketchup. Heinz's flagship product revolutionized the way the world enjoyed barbecue sauce, and was one of the first major players in the bottled barbecue sauce industry.

Crispy and delicious

South Carolina - you've struck gold

Like their northern neighbors, proud barbecuers in South Carolina also insist on using the whole pig, only they smother it in mustard-based sauce that goes by the name of "Carolina Gold." As the story goes, German immigrants introduced this much loved condiment into the barbecue sauce in the late 19th century, but it was actually a lone German immigrant named Joseph Jacob Bessinger who's ultimately credited with creating this new species of sauce. According to legend, he was desperate for a new form of revenue to feed his wife and 11 children when his wife found an ad for a restaurant in need of a new owner. The Holly Hill Cafe became the site of the infamous Carolina Gold sauce: an icon of South Carolina barbecue.

Snap, that's hot!

Tennessee - you're not the only ten I see

Next time you're in Memphis, make sure to save time for a hearty meal of "dry" or "wet" (or, you know, both) pork ribs in between jazz and country music sessions. The city's barbecue claim to fame is its dual love—and fierce rivalry—between these two styles. Dry ribs are coated in a rub (a mix of herbs and spices) and smoked, whereas wet ribs are smothered in a tomato based sauce and basted frequently while cooked. Memphis denizens love their barbecue so much you may find it incorporated into other dishes that seemingly lack any ties to barbecue (like spaghetti), but taste delicious nonetheless.

Class it up with lobster

Missouri - the mutt state

Missouri barbecue takes a leaf out of several national books. Many Kansas City barbecue aficionados find no fault with cooking up any protein they can lay their hands on. Fish, pork, chicken, beef (and even beans sometimes) - they all get thrown onto the pit and roasted. Missouri barbecue is best known for two things, both of which originated in Kansas City. Number one: caramelized double smoked ends of brisket, which are known as "burnt ends." (Clever, right?) The second is Kansas City style barbecue sauce. This is what most people think of today when they think of this favored condiment. Known for its generous inclusion of molasses, sweet Kansas City barbecue sauce first made its appearance in the 1920's and remains a national favorite to this day.

While many states and cities claim to have their own authentic version of "the best" barbecue style, it really comes down to personal preference—and possibly family history. One thing is clear, however: with so many mouthwatering barbecue styles to explore, it's not exactly a painful process to determine which one will ultimately win over your taste buds.

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Celebrate Endangered Species Day.

An endangered species is not a tragedy, because if a species is endangered, then they aren't yet extinct.

Sadly, there are millions of endangered species across the world, all facing threats that mostly stem from human activities. Still, it's not too late. Take a gander at these majestic animals, and then donate to a wildlife fund or environmental activism group of your choice.


Of course, nature doesn't need saving—humans do—and climate change and environmental destruction are threats to humans as well as animals, but if you need a reminder of the beauty and fragility of the natural world, check out these extraordinary species.



SPONSORED

Do Non-Melatonin Sleep Aids Really Work?

Objective makes a chocolate square.

I Can't Sleep.

I truly cannot remember the last time I had a good night's rest. Even before the stay-at-home orders, I was just a little ball of nerves.

But lately, it's been awful. I toss and turn, it's always too hot or even too cold, sometimes I make myself tea and read for a bit, but when I'm still up at 1 a.m., I reach for my phone and then I'm up until 3. My sister and I have a weekly call, and our small talk about our exhaustion turned into an hour long conversation about sleep.

I Thought I'd Tried Everything. Even Melatonin.

My sister asked why I hadn't gone for the old staple, melatonin and I reminded her about the time we traveled abroad, and it gave me the weirdest nightmares (the horrible kind where you wake up in your dream and you're still in a dream). Chamomile tea didn't work, nothing worked.

She said she had a friend who swore by something I definitely hadn't heard of.

They Were NOT Pills, Teas or Anything I'd Seen Before.

A company called Objective makes Fast Asleep, a sleep solution delivered as chocolatey treats. They're created with saffron and GABA. If going to sleep was as easy as eating a piece of these chocolatey, minty delights every night, I'd be sold.

What Exactly Was In It?

Cocoa contains caffeine, so I didn't know how this would help me sleep. After talking with my sister, I went online and saw that the calming, sleep-supporting ingredients cancel out any of the very little caffeine content.

Saffron, the spice, is apparently known to help with staying asleep, and their GABA is a fermented version of the neurotransmitter that's known to help you relax and fall asleep faster. In a study, 100% of customers saw improvement in their sleep quality thanks to saffron. One hundred percent!

Do I Try It?

A bag of 30 pieces was only $40, and they had a money-back guarantee.

They're keto-friendly and only 30 calories a piece, so not too decadent before bedtime.

They were chocolatey-minty, which is my favorite flavor, so I was sold. I ordered a bag to try.

The First Night, I Wasn't Impressed.

I took one piece (super yummy!) - 30-60 minutes before bedtime is recommended - but when I climbed in, I didn't notice a difference. I was worried I'd wasted my money.

However, once I fell asleep, I stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which hasn't always been the case for me.

I checked the site again, and noticed that many people didn't notice a real difference until the third or fourth night - it builds up in your system over time, so I decided to keep an open mind the rest of the week.

The Second Night Was Completely Different

Without doing anything differently from the first night, my second night was amazing. I felt calm and sleepy as I was getting ready for bed, and once I hit the pillow, I was out the whole night.

It had to be these sweet treats. The next day, I even felt more balanced and relaxed - Fast Asleep helps boost serotonin levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), and I definitely noticed a difference in my overall mood and alertness.

I Already Ordered More.

Just In Case! There's nothing habit-forming about this product, so it's completely safe to take every night, and I honestly always want to keep it in the house. I'd also love to offer it to anyone staying over in the guest room, whenever we have guests again.

Now that I'm getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep every night, I feel more equipped during the day to tackle the things I need to do and deal with some of my daytime stressors. I finally had the energy to clean the kitchen, which had been bothering me so much for the past few weeks.

With Objective's Fast Asleep, I get real sleep and balance my levels, so I don't have to feel tired during my waking hours. Sleep in the form of chocolate squares sounds so weird, but oh my goodness, do they work.

Our partners at Objective Wellness are currently offering a 25% discount if you use the coupon code STAYHOME. Check them out here!

Food & Drink

The Best Apps for Craft Beer Delivery

Try beers from all over the world–from your phone.

With breweries and distilleries out of business for the foreseeable future, your favorite beer may feel particularly out of reach this time of year, especially with the weather changing. But don't let quarantine suck all the fun out of summer. Luckily, thanks to technology, a lot of craft beer is now deliverable straight to your door step. Here are a few of the best apps to help make sure you stay up to date on the latest trendy brews.

Tavour

Tavour

Simplistic and elegant, Tavour allows users to easily fill up a box of beer over a period of time before shipping. The app offers more than 650 different breweries both local and national and is perfect for those who like to experiment. It's easy to use, and their menu rotates regularly so you and your beer never grow stale.

TapRM

TapRM

TapRM offers a wide range of both craft beers and hard seltzers. While based almost exclusively in New York City, the app offers fast, same day delivery from some of the best beer brands in the world. They also provide a unique selection of beers to help you find your new favorite. All you need to do is download the app and place your order!

Drizly

Offering a stark variety of craft beer, Drizly allows its users to mix and match 12-packs, sixers or by the bottle. Their guarantee is that they can have whatever you order delivered to your house in less than an hour. You can even schedule your delivery for a specific time, with each delivery taking around 20-40 minutes.

Saucey

Saucey takes delivery very seriously. When you order with them they guarantee that they'll deliver in 30-minutes or less, or they guarantee two day shipping. Also, beer aside, their entire liquor cabinet is also up for grabs. From tequila and whiksey, to vodka and wine, nothing is off the table for Saucey.

Beer Menus

BeerMenus

For those who enjoy strictly local beers, BeerMenus features a tap list from local bars and a broader stock list from your neighborhood beer store. With that, you can make sure to create a list of your favorite beers in your neighborhood, so that when they're in stock you can be ready to go.