Throughout the wide spectrum of barbecue sauces available for the discerning enthusiast, the majority of every variation begins with one of the four common base formulas. Beginning with the first sauces brought over with European immigrants and ending with the decidedly sweeter Americanized versions, traditional barbecue sauce-bases begin in one of the following four categories.
The "original" barbeque sauce, dating back hundreds of years is Vinegar and Pepper Sauce, the first and simplest of the four. It is found on the coastal plains of both North and South Carolina and to a slight degree in Virginia and Georgia.
The second of the four sauces is so closely linked to German settlers that it is most often referred to as classic South Carolina style - Mustard Sauce. Mustard-based sauces replace the tartness and spice of the original, thinner vinegar/pepper combination with the tanginess of mustard, regardless of the mustard variety used.
The third type of sauce, in terms of the evolution of sauces, is Light Tomato Sauce. This sauce is (or was) little more than Vinegar and Pepper with tomato ketchup added. This sauce was introduced after tomato ketchup became a readily available condiment around 1900. It was simple to take the tried and true Vinegar and Pepper and add ketchup, which brought a little sweetness to the mix. This style of sauce is most famous in North Carolina in the Piedmont region of which Lexington, North Carolina is the acknowledged barbeque center.
The fourth sauce is Heavy Tomato Sauce. This sauce has evolved only recently, that is, in the last 60 or so years, and it's the last of the four major types. It has spread rapidly over the majority of the nation due to modern transportation, modern marketing, and the insatiable sweet tooth of the modern American.