Texas Pete

I recently read some Californian is suing Texas Pete because nothing about them is Texan. Though I hope they lose, they’re right. There is nothing Texan about the taste of Texas Pete.

Texas Pete was born at Thad Garner’s barbecue restaurant, Dixie Pig, in Winston-Salem in the 1920s. Though the restaurant didn’t survive the Great Depression, the hot sauce did.

After the Dixie Pig closed its doors, the Garner family began producing the sauce in an abandoned hospital. Throughout the 1930s, they successfully peddled it to North Carolina restaurants.

The family named the sauce Texas Pete in honor of the spicy foods Texas is known for and one of the Garner brothers, whose nickname was Pete. In 1946 the brothers formed the T. W. Garner Food Company in Winston-Salem. Garner Foods is still going strong in Twin City today.

Bless them for that. I love that they stayed true to their roots and kept the company local. They have a loyal fanbase here – I am part of it.

I can’t imagine sitting down to a meal without what I call fire. It’s a nightly ritual at my house to remind the girls to grab the fire out of the fridge before we sit down to eat.

Texas Pete wasn’t an immediate hit for me. Papaw always kept a bottle of the sauce stashed in the kitchen when I was growing up. He used to douse it on his barbecue and seafood.

The first time I asked to taste it, he warned me it was hot. I didn’t listen. I never did. One drop – and my mouth was on fire.

It took a few years before I was ready to try it again. I was about eight years old… and that second taste might be the first time I fell in love.

Since then, Texas Pete has been my go-to sauce for just about everything. I put it in hamburger soup. I use it in my Shrimp and Grits. It goes on steak, chicken, pork, and seafood.

I’m not even kidding when I say we go through the big bottle every two months. And much to everyone’s chagrin, I carry a small bottle with me anytime we travel out of state.

Nothing against hot sauces made elsewhere, but I prefer mine to taste like home. Barbecue sandwiches, fish fries, and oyster roasts – the very best of North Carolina. And that’s what Texas Pete tastes like.

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