Kansas City celebrates inaugural National Burnt Ends Day

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — It seems like there’s a day to celebrate almost everything. Now Kansas City adds its own flavor to the calendar with National Burnt Ends Day.

The American Royal worked to designate the day that will be celebrated every Sept. 1.


Created in Kansas City, burnt ends come from beef brisket. The ends of the brisket are thinner than the rest of the cut. As the brisket is smoked, the ends are cooked longer and become “burnt.”

According to Joe’s KC, burnt ends were created in Kansas City after a sandwich maker at a barbecue restaurant in Kansas City’s popular 18th and Vine District would cut off the end pieces of the brisket as he sliced meat for sandwiches. The people standing in line would sneak bits of the meat as they waited for their orders.

The burnt pieces became so popular that people wanted them on the menu. The problem, according to Joe’s KC is that there are only two ends to every brisket. That means there aren’t enough burnt ends to go around.

That’s why Joes KC, and many other barbecue restaurants started using the brisket point too. The point contains more fat than the rest of the cut. It’s separated from the flat section of the brisket, smoked for hours, then chopped up and served, just like the original burnt ends.

Burnt ends are traditionally served either as an entre or added to a bun and served as a sandwich.

Some restaurants also list pork and ham burnt ends on their menus, but the only true burnt ends are beef. The rest are smoked meat that is simply chopped instead of sliced.

You really can’t claim you’ve been to Kansas City if you haven’t eaten burnt ends during your stay.


Kansas City loves its barbecue and it loves burnt ends. So, of course there are going to be specials at restaurants around town in honor of National Burnt Ends day.

Zarda BBQ created something special in honor of National Burnt Ends Day.

Its Apple Harvest version takes Zarda’s pork shoulder chunks and marinates it in apple harvest sauce. The meat is then smoked a second time and you’ll get the restaurant’s new menu item.

“It’s barbecue candy on a sandwich right here,” Terry Zarda, owner of Zarda BBQ said.

Zarda also mixes burnt end in its baked beans for a special treat.

“It’s a huge honor, it really is,” Zarda said. “The barbecue community in Kansas City is special. Everybody rallies and comes together and the American Royal is special. This is an iconic institution in Kansas City that we want to be behind and support and I know the entire barbecue community’s gonna be there.”


All of this leads up to the massive American Royal World Series of BBQ Competition at Kansas Speedway. The contest takes place Sept. 15-19. It’s the world’s largest barbecue contest.

Tickets for the event are now on sale.

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