BBQ Jew’s View: Short Sugar’s Pit Bar-B-Q

1328 S. Scales St., Reidsville, NC
 Short Sugar’s Website 
(complete with lots of photos, a copy of the menu, etc.)
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C+
Porky Says: “I wish I’d known ye in your prime, Sug.” 

Sticky Fingers
Like The Rolling Stones, Short Sugar’s is a true legend. And like The Stones, I am quite certain Short Sugar’s put on a much better live show back in the day. Now, like Mick Jagger’s lips and Keith Richard’s everything, Short Sugar’s is less of a sight to behold than in decades past and may be coasting on reputation.

Short Sugar’s is among the most storied of NC barbecue joints, from the tragic history that resulted in its great name to the fact that it still to this day offers curb service and a 1950s style atmosphere (yes, there even appear to be some vintage ’50s grease stains). There is much to like about Short Sugar’s. The bucolic setting in the heart of what was until recently serious tobacco country, as Reidsville’s history is closely tied to that of the American Tobacco Company. The impressive indoor wood pit, where the pork shoulders and hams are finished. The classic diner counter. The joint’s 60 years of history. Its reputation. The fact that the pork is hand-chopped to order.  The unique sauce that many rave about. And on and on. But, in my humble opinion, the ‘que has a hard time matching the mystique.  It seems like a classic case of the whole hog being less than the sum of the parts.

Beggar’s Banquet
I found the barbecue a bit bland, not exhibiting much depth of flavor. This makes sense based on what I ‘ve heard about their cooking method, which as I understand it now only uses the wood pit to finish the barbecue for the last few hours.  It’s a shame that a joint with 60 years of tradition–and probably a handful of customers who have eaten there for all of these years–would switch to an electric cooker.  Continue reading