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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

< Back to Oral History project: North Carolina BBQ


David Wilson & John David Wilson

North Carolina barbecue pit owners and masters that we’ve talked to follow the same business model: consistently cook the same product the same way everyday. This change-nothing attitude is readily apparent at Short Sugar’s Pit Bar-B-Q, where time appears to crawl at the same pace as their pork shoulders’ slow hickory-smoking. Located in downtown Reidsville, Short Sugar’s looks nearly the same as when it opened in 1949 (excluding a dining room addition three decades ago). Sit at the lunch counter and you soon come to terms with the goodness of this antiquarianism. Elbow-jostle with men who take the same stool every afternoon; wave greetings to second-generation owner David Wilson, often dressed in a 1950s drive-in-style shirt. Whether you order your chopped pit-cooked barbecue in plate, tray, or sandwich form, you’ll douse it in Short Sugar’s idiosyncratic sauce. The stuff is many shades darker than that found anywhere else in the State; undoubtedly Worcestershire-based, it’s runny and salty-sweet. Every week they sell gallons of the sauce because it complements their barbecue, and it’s the same as it ever was.

Date of interview:
2011-11-21 00:00

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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