In the South some barbecue specialties have curious names, and those names can be downright confusing the first time you encounter them.
There’s Texas Pete, for example. No, it’s not from Texas, and you’re not likely to find it served next to a pile of brisket on brown butcher paper. Instead, it’s a staple on the tables of barbecue joints in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, where it has spiced up untold numbers of pork plates and trays over the past six decades.
It’s the creation of the T.W. Garner Food Company of Winston-Salem, which has been producing it since 1946. According to the company’s history, when the Garner family was trying to come up with a name for their new hot pepper sauce, their marketing rep suggested “Mexican Joe” to evoke the fiery flavors found south of the border. Patriarch Sam Gardner insisted they needed a more American name and suggested “Texas” instead. “Texas Joe” didn’t have quite the right ring to it, but Sam’s son Harold was nicknamed “Pete.” They stuck the two names together and a North Carolina classic was born.
After doctoring their barbecue up with Texas Pete, North Carolinians are prone to wash it down with plenty of Cheerwine. But there’s no need for a designated driver, since despite its name and its deep red color, there’s not a drop of wine in Cheerwine. Made in Salisbury, North Carolina, since 1917, Cheerwine’s sweet, fruity flavor and extra-bubbly fizz blends quite nicely with smoky pork and a tangy vinegar sauce, making it the classic soft-drink for accompanying Carolina-style chopped pork barbecue.
Out in Kansas City, visitors might be a bit taken aback when they come across burnt ends on the menu at one of the city’s many famous barbecue joints. But they shouldn’t worry: burnt ends aren’t actually burned, and these days they aren’t always ends, either.
This Kansas City treat originated at the legendary Arthur Bryant’s, where the countermen used to take the small, odd-shaped end pieces leftover after carving a brisket and leave them in a pile next to the meat slicer. Customers were free to help themselves, and boy did they! As it turns out, those unlovely little bits have a crisp, smoky-infused exterior with lots of melted fat captured inside—a perfect one bite barbecue sampler.
Before long, burnt ends were being sold as regular menu items in barbecue joints around the city. To meet the popularity, some cooks these days no longer use just the leftover ends but actually chop a brisket into chunks and put them back on the smoker to finish.
What’s your favorite curiously-named barbecue specialty? We’d love to hear about it.