The Truth About Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce

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Barbecue sauce has been around for a surprisingly long time and has roots in a wide array of cultures. The Tennessee State Museum credits chefs from the French West Indies, as well as West African traditional cuisine, and West European influences for creating what we know as modern-day barbecue sauce. The Filthy Grill credits a Southern widow named Mrs. A.P. Hill and her 1867 cookbook for having the first references to a basic recipe, while the first "official recipe" for the sauce was a handwritten one from a Providence woman named Edith Lockwood Danielson Howard sometime in the early 20th century. It would seem that there is no one person that BBQ sauce can be traced to, as it's influenced by a wide variety of cultures across the globe.

That being said, there's a wide variety of companies today that are purveyors of this smokey, sweet, tangy sauce — with Kraft being one of them. You may be more familiar with Kraft Singles and the brand's classic blue box macaroni and cheese than its barbecue sauce. While the title on the label does boast that the sauce is "original," it's more or less just a way to separate it from the other different flavors of BBQ sauce Kraft offers rather than being the first of any kind.

Regardless, you still might wonder just what exactly is the deal with a barbecue sauce coming from a company that makes macaroni and cheese and marshmallows. Mashed dug in further to find out more about this popular condiment.

Kraft sold their first sauce back in the 1950s

Although the roots of BBQ sauce stretch back generations, the history of Kraft's version goes back to the 1950s (via Slate). But to call it a "sauce" would technically be incorrect as, according to, Kraft's first venture was in the form of a powdered mix.

This packet of powder, which Kraft claimed to be a blend of 19 herbs and spices, was sold alongside the brand's cooking oil as part of a promotion at the time. The packet also included a recipe that called for a combination of the cooking oil, catsup, fruit juice, brown sugar, and vinegar to make a rudimentary barbecue sauce. This recipe is similar to the first ketchup-based sauce that originated in the 1920s, according to Bradley Smoker, which consisted of a mixture of ketchup, sugars, and Worcestershire sauce.

While this may sound like a basic recipe, perhaps it's an example of not needing to be too extravagant to be popular. Today, Kraft sits as one of the most popular brands of BBQ sauces on the market. In 2014, Kraft sold $69.08 million worth of their sauce, second only to number-one seller Sweet Baby Ray's, which brought in $151.06 million from their own sauce (via Statista).

Is Kraft's BBQ sauce too sweet or too spicy?

In the world of barbecue sauces, there are some people that like it hot and others that like it a bit sweeter. Kraft Foods understands both sides, and ever the shrewd company, they offer a handful of options both sweet and spicy to appeal to both sides. But, for those who want the plain old original bottle, what exactly can they expect?

The Meatwave reviewed Kraft's Original BBQ Sauce, seeing if it would hold up to Garland Jack's, a beloved discontinued line. The review noted that Kraft's sauce had a smokey and tart aroma, but also a notable sweetness to it thanks to the addition of molasses and ketchup. The taste was noted to be akin to a "more complex ketchup," beginning with a sweetness that ends in a mild vinegary bite, followed by the noticeable taste of pepper, onions, and garlic. Overall, the review claimed that the sauce wasn't too bad, though the sweetness was a bit too much for their liking.

An Amazon review of Kraft's Original BBQ sauce also applauded its surprisingly sweet taste, claiming that it lacked the "bitter taste" one would expect to find in a barbecue sauce. Another review on FamilyRated noted that the sauce was neither too spicy nor too sugary, but instead had a sweet and rich tang to it that was appealing.

Kraft even has BBQ merch

Although the Kraft company certainly isn't the first to invent nor discover the wonders of barbeque sauce, this isn't to say that they aren't well invested in their line of smokey condiments either. Back in January of 2015, Kraft Foods "revamped" their line of barbeque sauces (via a release shared on PR Newswire), adding higher-quality ingredients such as molasses, cane sugar, and cider vinegar, as well as the removal of high-fructose corn syrup. While a revamped barbecue sauce made with better ingredients would be welcome news to any BBQ fan, Kraft also saw fit to release merchandise, meant especially for what they called "Evergrillers."

What are Evergrillers? According to Kraft, they are supposed "grill masters," or people who love to fire up the grill whenever and whatever the weather. The merchandise released by Kraft includes a fire-resistant grilling glove, a fleece hat with built-in sauce dispenser, and even a set of skis designed to convert from slopes to backyard grills. The company also partnered with GrillinFools' Scott Thomas to help promote these outrageous, barbecue-themed items.

If Starbucks could have a relationship with influencers (via Food News), who says barbecue sauce couldn't do the same? Especially with a giant like Kraft behind it.