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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

ORAL HISTORY

Tony Kittrell


At least a dozen barbecue establishments, covering nearly two-thirds of the State’s geography, operate under the Dukes name. Most South Carolinians across the Midlands and Lowlands claim a favorite. So, ask a local for directions to Dukes Bar-B-Que and you’re hazarding a geographic mixup.

Earl Duke founded the original Dukes Bar-B-Que along Whitman Street in downtown Orangeburg. From their the dukedom spread, with family members and others opening locations. The first Dukes eventually passed to Harold Kittrell, formerly a carpenter, and then onto his son, Tony, the present manager/co-owner.

Dukes Bar-B-Que (note, never spelled Duke’s) still stocks a loaded buffet line with sides—green beans, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, slaw, potato salad, pickles, and bread—and the heavy hitters: rice, hash, barbecue chicken, fried chicken, and, of course, chopped shoulder and ham barbecue pork. The standout remains Earl Dukes’ sauce recipe: sweet, ketchup-based, thicker then most, and orange-yellow tinged, giving it a color and viscosity Tony Kittrell deems “rust gravy.”

Date of interview:
2012-06-04 00:00

Interviewer:
Rien Fertel

Photographer:
Denny Culbert

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