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What's the difference between a barbecue and a cookout? TODAY anchors debate

“Do you like bones with sauce?” Savannah asked while discussing ribs' victory over hot dogs in TODAY's 4th of July BBQ Bracket.
/ Source: TODAY

Grills aren’t the only things getting fired up this holiday weekend.

Savannah Guthrie was stunned and none too pleased when learning Wednesday that ribs defeated hot dogs in TODAY's 4th of July BBQ Bracket.

“I’m shocked,” she said.

Al Roker, though, had a logical explanation for why he believed ribs emerged victorious.

“Hot dogs are a cookout. That’s not a barbecue,” he said, as he, Savannah, Tom Llamas, Hoda Kotb and Carson Daly all talked over each other with their passionate takes on the matter.

“They are not the same thing,” he said.

“Barbecue is when you cook in direct heat, low and slow," Al continued. "A cookout is when you cook directly over an open flame. Burgers, hot dogs, wings — things like that.”

Carson brought up the point that barbecues are “planned days before,” while cookouts “come together morning of.”

"Al is 80% right," soul food scholar Adrian Miller told TODAY Food.

"And my only quibble with him is that he defined barbecue as indirect cooking, low and slow. And that's one type of barbecue because there is a whole class of barbecue that's over direct flame. But I think he's right. Cooking something quickly, burgers and hot dogs — that's a cookout. Barbecue is about planning, length of time. You know, all of that stuff. So barbecue is more involved."

Savannah, though, stood her ground in the face of ribs’ win.

“Hot dog nation, I am with you,” she said.

She also couldn’t hold back her distaste after learning chicken wings defeated pulled pork, saying those foods leave a lot to be desired.

“Wings and ribs, guys, they’re bones. Wings and ribs are bones with this much meat and a lot of sauce,” she said indicating a sliver of meat. “Do you like bones?”

“Have your saucy bones. Have your saucy bones, everyone!” she said while Carson and Al extolled the virtues of ribs.

“Do you like bones with sauce?” she asked Hoda, who said she likes ribs but not wings.

Miller was also amused by Savannah's — ahem, rib-iculous — description.

He suspected she might be referring to baby back ribs, "the really small ones with a little meat" — not a "meaty rib with the mid rib tip attached and all that kind of stuff," he said.

"So that was a little shocking to hear that, but I do not think that ribs are wings with sauce."

Still, he found some humor in her description.

"I just started cracking up. Like, OK, I've never heard that one before. That's an interesting hot take," he said.