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first bbq list patricia sharpe archivesOf all the stories published in this magazine over the past fifty years, the most popular by far is our now quadrennial Top 50 barbecue list. Never mind our prizewinning coverage of politics, business, energy, medicine, crime, music, outdoor activities, travel, and fine dining. The barbecue list defines us.But what strikes me most about the endeavor is that it took 24 years for us to wake up and smell the smoke. That’s because barbecue was still an easygoing weekend treat back then, not the obsession or competitive sport it feels like today. Yes, we featured the cuisine during the magazine’s first two and a half decades—it was the cover story in April 1973, our third-ever issue. But the coverage was hardly systematic. Then, in the…

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