The Legacy Of The Panhandle Barbecue King

John Snyder’s role in the history of Amarillo barbecue.

By Casey CheekAugust 10, 2017 7:44 am, ,

Amarillo, one of Texas’ younger cities, is known for many things. But barbecue is not one of them.

Where there’s smoke, there’s Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor for Texas Monthly. Vaughn says the barbecue history of Amarillo is richer than you might think. The city is classically Texan, and although it doesn’t have many of the kind of barbecue restaurants found in other Texas cities, it does boast the legacy of John Snyder.

“John Snyder was a pit master from way back,” Vaughn says. “By 1932 he had been at the barbecue game for, well, about 30 years.”

“One of the things that made him unique was he really liked cooking whole steers,” Vaughn says.

The method has been adopted by some popular barbecue chefs since, but Snyder did it first. By the age of 77, Snyder estimated he had cooked 4,000 whole steers.

Snyder left his mark on Texas barbecue in another way: with apricots.

Long before many restaurants added apricots as a side dish, Snyder had worked the fruit into his meals.

“He was serving these pureed apricots as a side item at all of these barbecues,” Vaughn says.

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.


Written by Nahila Bonfiglio.