What They Say About Scott's BBQ Sauce!
Scott's is not one of those half-dozen or so places whose names spring immediately to the tongue whenever North Carolina barbecue is being discussed, but in fact, it's one of the state's oldest barbecue restaurants, as well as a thriving black-owned enterprise.
Today, many of those who live outside Goldsboro are familiar with the family name through the visibility of Scotts Famous Barbecue Sauce, a quintessential eastern North Carolina style, vinegar-based sauce that's sold commercially in several grocery chains in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
The yellow label features the red silhouette of a pig and the legend: "It's The Best Ye Ever Tasted".
A portrait of the late Reverend Adam W. Scott hangs just inside the front door at Scott's Famous Barbecue in Goldsboro, and it's the image of a man with an intriguing twinkle in his eye. Scott was the founder of Scott's Restaurant, a preacher in the Holiness Church, and the inventor of the sauce--well, sort of. Adam was a young man working as a janitor and elevator operator in Goldsboro when he first tried his hand at cooking barbecue. His early efforts were so enthusiastically received that he began to cater occasional parties and receptions, and a number of years later, he began regularly cooking pigs in a backyard pit on weekends and selling the meat.
By 1933, he had enclosed the back porch of his home to make it into a dining room, and over the years, many of the state's most prominent citizens visited Scott's to sample some of his famous barbecue, including the late Governor, J. Melvin Broughton.
An enigmatic aura just naturally surrounds any good barbecue man's sauce recipe, but Adam Scott perhaps carried the sense of mystery to new heights when he announced that the recipe for his sauce had come to him in a dream.
That original recipe was served on Scott's barbecue for nearly 30 years, until Adam Scott's son, A. Martel Scott, Sr., spiced up the mixture a bit before obtaining a patent on the sauce in 1946. Since all eastern North Carolina barbecue sauces, including Scott's, start with a base of vinegar, salt, red pepper, and black pepper, what must have come to Adam Scott as he lay slumbering were all the ingredients which are lumped together on the label under the general classification of "spices".
These spices form a 2-inch sediment of the bottom of the reddish liquid before it's taken thoroughly according to the directions on the label. In addition to several types of ground and black pepper, there are some lighter-colored grains, something that might be a onion or garlic powder. . .but then trying to guess the ingredients is really sort of pointless, the kind of game you play to pass the time while waiting in pleasant anticipation for your plate of barbecue to arrive
Personally, I enjoy taking an occasional swig straight from the bottle as I pass my kitchen pantry, and as for lifting the forkful of barbecue that's still glistening from an annointing of Scott's sauce--well, that is a dream like experience.
In 1989, Scott's Famous Barbecue Sauce was awarded second place in a national competition among thirty-one vinegar-based barbecue sauces sponsored by Food and Wine magazine. Fewer than one-fourth of all the barbecue sauces on the market today are of the vinegar-based variety, so, Scott's, in its award winning eminence, stands as a lonely but sturdy reminder of eastern North Carolina's vinegar-flavored, barbecue heritage.
Who knows: if this sauce had been available in the nineteenth century, maybe no one would have tried adding tomatoes to barbecue sauce.
While handing out well-deserved praise , we shouldn't forget that this stuff can blister your skin if you work around it too long without wearing rubber gloves.
One night in 1957, someone saw a man breaking into Scott's restaurant and called the police. When the officers arrived and searched the premises, they found a broken window-but no burglar. As they were preparing to leave, they heard a sound from the storeroom, and when they investigated, the found the would-be thief hiding in a fifty-five gallon drum half full of Scott's sauce. His rapidly growing discomfort had caused him to stir inside the barrel, which led to his discovery. The police lifted the man out of the drum and carted him off to jail, where he spent the night in a cell without the benefit of the shower to wash the sauce from his skin and clothing. The next morning, Martel Scott showed up at the police station, and when he realized that the man had spent the night marinating in Scott's Famous Barbecue Sauce, he declined to press charges, saying the unfortunate intruder had already suffered enough.
Scott's has served its share of the rich and famous over the years. Adam Scott was invited to the White House on one occasion to serve barbecue to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt-he took a long as children and even some of the grandchildren for the historic event. In the late '40s, Adam Scott turned the restaurant over to his son Martel, Sr., and moved to Winston-Salem to serve as the personal barbecue chef R. J. Reynolds, Jr., Bob Hanes of Wachovia Bank, and James Hanes of the textile family. He continued traveling with the Reynold' and cooking barbecue for high-society functions until 1976, when he returned to Goldsboro.
Adam died in 1983, but a third generation of Scotts operate the restaurant and sauce business. A. Martel Scott, Jr., is a quiet modest man who seems to have a very different personality than the one you imagine his colorful grandfather must have had, but the continued successful operation of the family business was calls for Scott's to be featured in a 1992 article in Entrpreneur magazine.
Scott's is a cheerful, sunlight-filled place, with chrome and formica tables and comfortable booths upholstered in light green vinyl. The menu is fairly extensive-there are a lot of nonbarbecue items, along with a couple of unusual twists concerning the barbecue.
For one thing, Scott's whole hog barbecue is
offered not only chopped, which in eastern North Carolina is the de
riguer, but also sliced and "chunked" into tender, one inch cubes. For
another, barbecue plates are accompanied by a complementary serving of
crisp pork skin and a few ribs. (These are the ribs pulled from the
roasted whole pig and are different from the spare ribs offered on the
This creates barbecue that is very moist and juicy. No sauces has been placed on the barbecue when it's brought to the table, so basically what you're being served as a very mild, naturally sweet, tender serving of roast pork, waiting to be turned into what the taste buds recognize as barbecue by a liberal dose of Scott's spirited Famous Barbecue Sauce. Think of the barbecue as a canvas and the sauce as the paint, and you'll leave Scott's having created a minor masterpiece.
The restaurant isn't highly visible to non-Goldsboro residents, although it's easy to find. From U.S. 70, which skirts the northern edge of Goldsboro, takes the William Street exit and travel south toward town; you'll see the restaurant on the right. A square, yellow-and-red sign next to a small parking lot bears the same logo as the sauce label and announces Scott's Famous Barbecue Sauce. Judging by the modest dimensions of the sign, however, I figure the owners must assume everone already knows how famous it is. Closed Sunday and Monday.