Next week, hundreds of pit masters will flock to Kansas City to compete in the American Royal World Series of Barbecue. Afterall, barbecue is to the city what seafood is to Seattle or Cajun to New Orleans.

In anticipation of this lip-smacking event, which covers the city in a thin layer of smoke for three full days, we turned to another barbecue giant – KC Masterpiece – to create our own barbecue feast using its 35th anniversary limited-edition flavor of barbecue sauce.

According to KC Masterpiece, this special sauce is “a celebration of our Blue Ribbon recipe at the first American Royal Barbecue contest – made with real sugar, rich dark molasses, and heaping helpings of love.”

To try it out, I grabbed a package of chicken tenders out of the refrigerator (my apologies, pork fans – my procrastination is showing) and let them marinade in the 35th anniversary sauce for about four hours. We fired up the grill and cooked the chicken to a nice, golden brown.

I cornered my hungry coworkers around lunchtime for a barbecue chicken taste test. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

  • Laura Mushrush, associate editor, Drovers/CattleNetwork: “The sweetness of this full bodied sauce was the perfect pairing to offset the fowl in a more pleasurable dining experience. The smooth smoky aftertaste tickled my taste pals in a harmonious intermission between each bite. I give the KC Masterpiece 35th Anniversary Blend 7 out of 10 James Hetfield Yeahs.”
  • Chelsea Mies, staff writer, PorkNetwork: "The KC Masterpiece's limited-edition anniversary blend had a nice, light flavor that wasn’t overpowered by tanginess or sweetness, like many barbecue sauces. I liked that the sauce had a nice balance of sweet, tangy and smokey flavors, but still maintained a subtle flavor."
  • Chris Koger, news editor, The Packer: “Tasted great. Not an overbearing sauce, but gives a good smokiness.”
  • Coral Beach, staff writer, The Packer: “As a KC native. I’ve been eating all kinds of Q for more than 50 years. I’ve always preferred sweet and sumptuous over the burn-your-tastebuds-off-your-tongue sauces, and the new KC Masterpiece flavor definitely meets my requirements. Subtle enough to let the true flavor of the meat come through while tickling the palate with just enough spice to make it interesting. 5 out of 5 stars from The Beach.”
  • Chuck Robinson, assistant copy chief, The Packer: “This sauce is a good family-meal sauce. It is a little bit sweet, but not really sugary, and the tanginess is subtle so young kids will like it. Keeps the meat nice and moist.”

So there you have it – it’s a winner for our testers. Try it for yourself and let us know what you think.