Restaurants on wheels. Mobile kitchens. Food trucks are scattered across Texas and around the world these days, and the variety of meals served from their windows is vast. The earliest known form of this modern-day convenience is the chuckwagon.

The invention of the chuckwagon has been attributed to Texas rancher Charles Goodnight, a pioneer in the American West cattle industry. Chuckwagons provided sustenance for cowboys driving thousands of cattle throughout the United States in the late 19th century. The drives often lasted weeks or months, covering hundreds of miles of wilderness.

At that point in history, "chuck" was slang for food. It's believed that Goodnight laid claim to some US Army wagons, outfitted them with kitchen supplies and "chuck" - staples like beans, bacon, flour and coffee - and sent them along the trails to accompany his employees.  Did the word "chuck" or the wagon come first? No one really knows. But the chuckwagon "food truck" was born.

The camp cook - often referred to as the "cookie" - was the chef of the chuckwagon, cooking hearty meals over a stove or an open fire. The cowboys would huddle up for servings of food, a break from their work, and socializing with their peers. Some things never change.

The evolution of the food truck has picked up speed in recent decades. Several factors have contributed to a rise in popularity of these modern-day mobile kitchens, including the advent of social media and lower-cost affordability compared to running a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

There's no way to know precisely if the first food truck rolled into existence on the plains of Texas. But the odds are in our favor, and we sure will claim it.

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