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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. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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Rudy Cobb

No chairs, no tables, just a counter. Take your food and go. Its name is the stuff that could have been dreamed up by a Hollywood script department: Jack Cobb & Son Barbecue Place. It’s a joint where even the owner, Rudy Cobb, can’t pin down exactly how old the establishment is. Could have been opened in the 1940s, might just have opened in the 1930s.

Rudy Cobb is Son, inheritor of his father’s legacy. For a half-century, Jack Cobb constructed barrels for the tobacco industry. On Saturdays, Cobb, aided by Son, moved from making hogsheads to smoking whole hogs, selling the meat out of his car to his warehouse coworkers.

Father and Son eventually setup shop in Farmville, a tobacco-town for which a more apt name could not have been chosen. Here, Son still prepares food Jack Cobb’s way: oak wood-fired pigs, collard greens, hushpuppies, slaw, and boiled potatoes. For three days each week, the Place is the space for barbecue.

Rien T. Fertel

Denny Culbert

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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