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Chuckwagon

A historical recreation of a chuckwagon at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo in Austin.

A chuckwagon was originally a wagon that carried food and cooking equipment on the prairies of the United States and Canada. They would form a part of a wagon train of settlers or feed nomadic workers like cowboys or loggers. It was common for the "cookie" who ran the wagon to be second only to the "trailboss" on a cattle drive. The cookie would often act as cook, barber, dentist, and banker.

While some form of mobile kitchens had existed for generations the invention of the chuckwagon is accredited to Charles Goodnight, a Texas rancher who introduced the concept in 1866. Chuck was then a slang term for food. Chuckwagon food included easy to preserve items like beans and salted meats, coffee, and sourdough biscuits. Food would also be gathered en route. In Texas, it is said that chile peppers were planted along the cattle trails to serve for future use.

Today, Chuckwagon racing is an event at some rodeos mainly in Western Canada such as the Calgary Stampede. Chuckwagons are raced around a figure eight barrel obstacle, and the stove and tent poles within the wagon must not be lost. The racing team also has four "outriders" who load the tent poles at the start and must finish the race with the Chuckwagon. Many such races are held each year in Western Canadian cities and towns.

Chuckwagon races at Calgary Stampede

The Chuckwagon finals at the Calgary Stampede 2006

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