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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

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

Interviewer:
Rien T. Fertel

Photographer:
Denny Culbert

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