Labor Day weekend is one of the most popular times to fire up the barbecue for most folks, so I wanted to share an interesting story with you about the history of the most popular barbecue sauce in America. In 1985, Chef Larry named his sauce Sweet Baby Ray's after his little brother David, who got the nickname shooting hoops on the west side of Chicago. They entered the big Chicago rib cook-off and Sweet Baby Ray's beat nearly 700 other entrants to become number one.

In 1989 I was doing a radio morning show in Chicago and received a call from Chef Larry wanting to do a promotion to spread the word about his award-winning barbecue sauce. We decided to do a fishing contest right there in downtown Chicago on the Chicago River. You can actually see our radio station building and the green Chicago River in 'The Fugitive' with Harrison Ford (when he's hiding in the St. Patrick's Day Parade)! Naturally, you can't have a fishing contest without some good barbecue right? So everyone who entered the fishing contest was treated to fresh BBQ burgers slathered in Sweet Baby Ray's. To my knowledge that is the only advertising Sweet Baby Ray's has ever done. It's all been word-of-mouth from there and is now the most popular barbecue sauce in America. (BTW, some beautiful trout were caught in that nasty-looking river that day!)

I found a couple of cool videos on YouTube that I wanted to share with you. While I don't think you can possibly recreate Sweet Baby Ray's exactly, this might be kind of fun if you like tinkering with barbecue sauce creations over the stove.

 

 

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