Burnt ends — crispy, smoky bites of the ends of beef brisket — are now a staple on barbecue restaurant menus across the country. But they began, as many inventions do, as a happy accident.
Burnt ends were first served to customers at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque, a Black-owned restaurant in Kansas City, Mo., which Bryant ran from 1946 until his death in 1982. Instead of tossing the crispy ends after slicing brisket for sandwiches, he saved the scraps, chopped them up, and handed them out for free to customers waiting for their meals.
Burnt ends are now a menu item in their own right, appearing as an entrée, a side, or as a topping for items such as loaded fries and nachos. Their versatility and uniqueness keep barbecue connoisseurs and rookies alike coming back for more.
Market research firm Datassential reports 44% of the population knows of burnt ends, with awareness highest among Millennials, Midwesterners and high-income consumers.
Click through the gallery to learn more about this Flavor of the Week and see how one chain is using burnt ends on its menu.