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How It Started - John Boy & Billy's Grillin' Sauce

ribs.jpg In 1996 Carl Lewis stole our hearts through our tongues with his original John Boy & Billy's Grillin' Sauce. His regular appearances alongside radio DJ's "John Boy & Billy" on their nationally syndicated "the Big Show," made him a fan favorite as Carl the Cook. No overnight success, this delicate recipe has been simmering in the heart of this Southern family for decades among the pines of eastern North Carolina. As of 2011, Carl's line of original BBQ & Hot Sauces, blended Rubs and Marinades, continues to expand the same way this celebrity Grilling Master created them... by cooking & experimenting with family and friends at home, at church, on the road, in the backyard and at BBQ competitions across the country. But the Sauce story started before Carl was even born, doing what it's still doing today, putting a smile on a loved one's face. In his own words, hailing from Turner Swamp, North Carolina, enjoy the tale of a true original, Carl "the Cook" Lewis.

"He loved the sauce."

The BBQ Sauce has been established in the Lewis family since the 1950's. It came from my daddy, Carl Sr's, side and Mama has tinkered with it over the years to get it where it is today. In 1995 we started making the Sauce on the stove at Mama's house after we all got home from work each day. We loved being around each other, people already loved the Sauce and we loved making it. In the summer of 1996 we won the North Carolina Farmers Market, Battle of the Sauces. We tried getting it on local store shelves but struck out. Someone suggested we present it to NASCAR folks. So, I sent it to the top 5 drivers and my all time favorite, the one and only, Dale Earnhardt. One day we got a call from Dale's people and "he loved the Sauce!" I was on Cloud 9 in Turn 4 at Daytona running a scalded dog like I stole it!

"You earn it like Dale did."

NASCAR was blowing up into the mega-sport it is today, he had just started licensing his name, and we simply couldn't afford him. But, being the kind of people he was, instead of sending me to the pit with a flat tire, Dale told me about two guys from Charlotte named, John Boy & Billy, and I was all ears. People love our Sauce because it's Mama's heart in a bottle. She cooks it with nothing but pure love, using more heart than head. Around home we cook by feel and live the same way. Back in his day Daddy was a helluva baseball pitcher and even struck out Ted Williams once. He don't get impressed often. Dale Earnhardt is one of a very few he has ever admired, period. Dale was the Man. He was Racing. Daddy would say, "Son, you don't demand it, you can't fake it and nobody's gonna give it to you. Respect. You earn it like Dale did." I had never heard of John Boy & Billy so I listened to the Big Show and gave the Intimidator's words the thought they deserved.

"Buddy-Roe- Combses, Babes & BBQ"

Every weekend, my best friend Fred and I were at the local racetrack, spread out across 10 parking spaces, against the fence, providing our "community tailgate." It was "Buddy-Roe-Combses, Babes & BBQ!" Folks brought their own meat, we put the heat to it and provided all the BBQ Sauce. I heard people on the Big Show cooking so we sent the Boys our Sauce and told them we'd love to come feed them. 5 days later "Jackie" popped up on my answering machine, "Hey, you better get your butt up here and cook for these Boys... they LOVE your Sauce." After grazing on Ribs, BBQ turkey, chicken, pork chops and fresh sausage, our first Big Show ended with a belch and our friendship started with a bang. We did business the way honest folks do... with nothing but a handshake on the tailgate. The best of friends and business partners, we were kindred spirits the day we met and next of kin by the time that grill cooled down. Looking back, this all happened because folks like Mama, Daddy and Dale taught us to put your whole heart in everything you do or don't do it.

In 1996, the John Boy & Billy's Grillin' Sauce was born and we've never looked back. We did move the Sauce making out of Mama's kitchen, except for family cookouts, church events, Sundays, Nascar races or any other reason we can find to do what we do. And we still make it the same way for the same reason. For family & friends. For the Good Life.

When you pour the Sauce out, I hope you take the time to look around and soak it all in. If you surround yourself with the people you love the most, I guarantee you'll never be hungry again. Your cup will runneth over.


"I gotcha covered, Hoss."
Carl 'the Cook' Lewis.

Family & friends. For the Good Life. This is what John Boy & Billy's Foods is all about.
Carl the Cook's mission is as simple as that.
Getting folks to slow down, fire up the grill and spend quality time with those they love spreading the love. So, pop a bottle and fill their bellies as well as their hearts with the very best life has to offer.

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