Made in Texas: What is a chuck wagon and how did it play an essential role in a cowboy’s life?

Illustration of a chuck wagon.
Illustration of a chuck wagon. (Pixabay)

HOUSTONWelcome to Made in Texas, where we write about products made in the Lone Star State.

Today we’re featuring the 19th-century Texas invention that played an essential role in a cowboy’s life — the chuck wagon.

What is a chuck wagon?

A chuck wagon was a mobile food cart that served as a kitchen, pantry and storage space for the cook, also known as Cookie, who had to feed cowboys as they moved cattle through open prairies.

The 19th-century invention was developed by Texas rancher Charles Goodnight at the end of the Civil War in 1866, according to Texas Monthly.

The story behind the chuck wagon

The rolling kitchen could feed an entire crew of cowheads, most of whom were teenagers, during their long cattle drives outside of the Lone Star State.

Meals consisted mainly of beans and biscuits with the ocasional dessert, according to the National Cowboy Museum.


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