Originally Posted by Pitmaster T
I was specifically mentioning that when you mentioned the depression you were, by your own evidence given in this post, several decades off. Like the original thread says, brisket (probably die to its availiability as a packer) was not popular rather recently..... really until the late 50's. Sure, you can find a place that has been serving a long while (Angelos in Fort Worth has always served it which opened in 1957) and Jetton only used it at the end of his carreer.
The depression was NOT contributor to the rise of brisket as an accessible cut to BBQ NOR would WWII be at all due to the rationing. After the War, it took a great while for the economy to get moving again and the rise of the BBQ resturant would have to wait until the mid 1950s. Right after that the meat packers began the consolidation changes that have brought us to what we have now. In order for something to catch on like the OP is suggesting (which denotes it was not poplar before) the cut has to be easier to get than just butcher shop..... and that came with the rise of suburbia and the death of the meat markets. The product was always cheap... but it took the packing process to evolve a little better (where you could order, say, 40 briskets every day and get delivered nothing else) for the cut to be the staple of beef bbq its known as today.
There is a dissertation on the strange rise on cost of the skirt steak in the late 70's and early 1980's that came out of Texas a and m that covers some of the concept as the author used the brisket as a model for comparision. This was doen because there was a mysterious rise on the cost of the skirt steak which was attributed to both the ability to get these separate and the rise of the "fajita" that begun around this period.
You should tweak your thesis statement..... to....."Since the way to make a tender brisket is a comparative constant regardless of era, and being that the cut has always been an economic cut, supply capability is the sole reason it has become popularized."
While the quote from Mares is certainly a primary source, we all know the brisket can be cooked at the same temp as a quarter or shoulder and be a thing of beauty.
Thanks for the info, bro. Let me clarify, when I say the depression and WWII were drivers I mean that lean times caused by those events was a driver for restaurants to look for ways to cut costs, maintain a profit level, and sell at an affordable price. It is clear that those conditions are what drove restaurants and meat markets to seek out cuts like brisket and pork ribs as well as chicken fried steak.
It may have taken many a while to get there, but those things were drivers as well as the ability of suppliers to provide those cuts.
As the author of Republic of Barbecue
states "brisket barbecue dates to the mid-twentieth century, when restaurants and meat markets struggled to emerge from the Great Depression and war rationinug. The economical brisket, available at cheap prices from national distributors and slaughterhouses, became the meat of choice."
Aiding that was the highway system, refigeration and large packing houses that didn't exist before those times.