The sauce really is outstanding — dark, thick and in-your-face bold with flavors deeper than, uh, a hundred-foot well. That’s because the menu of ingredients is longer than, um, a preacher’s sermon. Depending on the flavor, they include paprika, brown mustard, mustard seed, brown sugar, honey, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, raisin paste, anchovy paste, tamarind, cayenne pepper, chipotle chili powder, celery seed, orange juice, onion, garlic and “spices you can’t know about.” But no whiskey.
The question is, of course, did Rufus Teague really exist and is the four-flavor line really based on his sauce recipe? After all, where would the good ol’ boys in, say, 1890s to 1930s Kansas lay hands on anchovy paste or tamarind?
I called the parent company in Shawnee, Kansas, to ask.
“Rufus Teague was not an actual person, (the concept) is a little something we came up with,” said founder John McCone. “(His portrait) is a couple of different pictures put together and modified. A buddy of mine and I came up with (the backstory), but it does have a bit of true meaning to it, we just kind of twisted it. I came up with all the recipes myself and we did (create the sauces) in a sauce pot.”
The business started “as a fun little thing that just keeps growing,” McCone said, “There are hundreds of barbecue sauces here in Kansas, and I thought, ‘How am I going to compete with that?’ But it’s moving right along and we’re doing better than I ever thought we would.”