Who Was the Stubb Behind Stubb’s BBQ Sauce?
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Yes, Stubb was a real person!
While browsing barbecue sauces at the grocery store, there’s no doubt you’ve come across Stubb’s Bar-B-Que’s iconic round bottles. But have you ever thought about who was pictured on those labels?
Unlike some other brands, the face adorning Stubb’s Bar-B-Que is a real person, C.B. Stubblefield, the company’s founder. And the only thing more legendary than Stubb’s sauces was his life story.
Here’s more on the real and not-so real people behind your favorite brands.
Who Was C.B. Stubblefield?
Christopher B. Stubblefield, known as Stubb to family and friends, got his first taste of cooking while serving in the 96th Field Artillery, the US Army’s last all-black army infantry, in the Korean War. After being injured twice as a gunner, Stubbs was assigned as a mess sergeant, where he treated his fellow soldiers to good music and even better food.
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Stubb’s First Restaurant
After being discharged in 1967, Stubb joined his family in Lubbock, Texas, and opened his first restaurant, Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q. Though the restaurant was situated in a small, 75-seat building off the highway, the place was packed with patrons indulging in Stubb’s barbecued chicken, ribs, brisket and, of course, homemade sauce. Try any of these regional barbecue sauces in your own home.
Capacity was stretched past the limit on Saturday nights when the restaurant doubled as a blues venue for up-and-coming Texas artists and music legends alike. Artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and more played at Stubb’s Legendary, compensated with patrons’ tips and Stubb’s barbecue.
Despite the restaurant’s success, Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q in Lubbock closed in the mid-1980s. It was then that Stubb moved to Austin and opened a new restaurant location, which he ran for three years.
The Legendary BBQ Sauce
After his second restaurant closed, and at the urging of his friends and former customers, Stubb started bottling his famous barbecue sauce in repurposed mason jars and whiskey bottles. Each bottle of Stubb’s sauce was made by hand, corked with a jalapeno and early bottles were sold with a “Stubb’s Blues Cookbook Cassette,” an audio cookbook narrated by Stubb himself. Take a look at these other cookbooks by black authors that you’ll want to get your hands on.
When Stubb began selling his sauces in grocery stores in the early ’90s, they became too popular for Stubb to keep up with demand on his own. So he searched for partners that would expand the business while keeping the sauce’s homemade feel, which he found in 1993. When sauce making was taken off his plate, Stubb spent his time visiting trade shows to introduce his sauces to a wider audience, including Australia and the United Kingdom.
Stubb’s Legacy Lives On
Sadly, Stubb passed away on May 27, 1995, but his legend has lived on. A year after his death, the restaurant and music venue Stubb’s Austin opened, which has since hosted a wide range of artists like Blondie, Loretta Lynn, Bob Dylan, James Brown, Snoop Dogg and more. In 1999, a bronze statue of Stubb, sculpted by Terry Allen, was erected at the location of his original restaurant in Lubbock and a few years later, The Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Cookbook was released. In 2019, Stubb was inducted into the American Royal Association’s Barbecue Hall of Fame, an honor which Stubb’s grandsons and barbecuers, Reggie and Rocky Stubblefield, accepted for their late grandfather.
Most enduring, though, has been Stubb’s barbecue sauce. The brand, which was sold to McCormick & Co. in 2015, has expanded to include marinades, rubs and “cookin’ sauces” which are sold around the world. Each product is still adorned with Stubb’s smiling face and a quote or two.