SC Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers: SC BBQ Flavors and History

With the Fourth of July this week, Commissioner Hugh Weathers thought it would be a good idea to tell us about SC BBQ flavors and some SC BBQ flavor history.

  • South Carolinians have been slow-smoking pork over an open pit for five centuries and everyone has opinion about which sauce is best.
  • SC can confidently boast that the Palmetto State has one of the country’s oldest and most vibrant barbecue traditions.
  • In fact, the form of whole hog cooking practiced in the Pee Dee region is the closest approximation to the way barbecue was cooked back in the colonial and antebellum days.
  • South Carolinas official sauces: mustard, vinegar and pepper, light tomato and heavy tomato
  • We’re the only state in the nation to boast all four BBQ flavor profiles
  • When the Germans settled here in the 1700s, they brought along their love of mustard, which coupled wonderfully with slow smoked pork.
  • Starting in the 1730s and continuing into the 1750s, the British colony of South Carolina encouraged, recruited, and even paid the ocean passage for thousands of German families so they could take up residence in South Carolina.
  • Those German families were given land grants up the Santee, Congaree, Broad and Saluda Rivers as they came in successive waves over a twenty plus year migration.
  • On a barbeque flavor map, you’ll see mustard sauce followed the Germans through the midlands up to around Newberry.
  • Mustard sauce is often referred to as the unofficial sauce of South Carolina because this is the only place you’ll find it.
  • The Scottish families who settled primarily in Williamsburg County in present day South Carolina low country are the most famous South Carolina preparers of Vinegar and Pepper barbeque.
  • Vinegar and pepper sauce is most commonly found along the coast and it ranges in degrees of spiciness. This sauce is one of the oldest in the nation and the vinegar works wonderfully with pork.
  • Light tomato is basically vinegar and pepper sauce with ketchup added for a little sweetness and is most common in the Pee Dee and upper middle part of the state.
  • Heavy tomato is found in the Upstate and is thick and sweet. This sauce is the most common sold in grocery stores around in other parts of the United States.
  • Visit the website at for a full list of Certified SC BBQ sauces.