Here's a chance for Charlotte-area sauce makers to flaunt their barbecue game.
Bidding opens today for an official barbecue sauce for the Democratic National Convention. Makers must tout the Carolinas' three regional styles: vinegar (Eastern North Carolina), tomato-based (Western and Piedmont) and mustard-based (South Carolina.) The trio of flavors will be sold together as a gift pack on the convention website.
The winning bidder will receive a contract in an amount to be determined later, according to Jackie Bateman, grassroots finance director for the convention.
The idea is not only to show local flair, but to raise money. The local host committee is charged with raising nearly $37 million for the convention. Festivities kick off Labor Day with a festival for 35,000 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Convention business officially starts Sept. 4, and ends Sept. 6 with President Barack Obama accepting the party's nomination at Bank of America Stadium.
"We just want to be as creative as possible, and we want to showcase the Carolinas," Bateman said.
It might also be a way to settle scores. Some snickered during last year's DNC announcement when Michelle Obama said "great barbecue" is made in host city Charlotte.
Make that Shelby or Lexington, others said.
"Anything I can do to promote barbecue-ism is a step in the right direction for me," says John Crane of Big John's BBQ and Catering, based in Matthews. He plans to compete in the DNC sauce contest. "I am enough of a barbecuephile that I insist on making my own sauce."
Actually, the winning sauce maker could come from anyplace. Only bidders listed with the convention's online vendor directory will be considered. While that directory of 3,000 includes out-of-state businesses, the host committee says the preference is to pick winning sauces made in the Carolinas.
That makes sense to Dan Huntley. His Dan the Pig Man food truck around Charlotte includes 'cue with sauce he makes from all three bases: tomato, vinegar and mustard.
"I maintain that true Carolina barbecue is unfranchisable," he said.