Skip to comments.S.C. Supreme Court tosses out barbecue sauce suit
Posted on 04/01/2007 12:46:47 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina Supreme Court has tossed out a lawsuit filed by barbecue magnate Maurice Bessinger accusing several grocery store chains of unfair trade by not selling his sauce on their shelves.
Nine chains with over 3,000 stores between them removed Bessinger's mustard-based barbecue sauce in 2000 after he raised the Confederate flag over his restaurants in protest of the legislature's decision to take the Confederate flag off the top of the Statehouse dome.
News stories at the time also pointed out Bessinger distributed literature at his restaurants with titles like "The South Was Right" and "Myths of American Slavery."
Bessinger sued Bi-Lo, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Kroger, Publix, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Winn-Dixie and Piggly Wiggly stores, asking for $50 million. He said they violated his right to free speech under the state's Unfair Trade Practices Act by removing his barbecue sauce.
The state Supreme Court recently upheld rulings by two lower courts that Bessinger's case did not have enough merit to be heard by a jury.
Bessinger attorney Glen Winston LaForce Sr. said the ruling ends Bessinger's legal fight.
"Mr. Bessinger is still proudly flying the Confederate flag. He stood for his principles, and I'm proud of him for that," LaForce said.
"Mr. Bessinger is still proudly flying the Confederate flag. He stood for his principles"
It's the same situation as with the Dixie Chicks. No one violated his free speech. Free speech doesn't guarantee that you won't suffer some consequences for asserting your right to free speech.
I want to order some of this Bar B Que sauce. Any idea how?
BTW, please add me to your Ping List. Thanks!
I get mine online here
"News stories at the time also pointed out Bessinger distributed literature at his restaurants with titles like "The South Was Right" and "Myths of American Slavery."
The writer makes it sound like he was handing out free pamphlets, but those are a couple of $25.00 history books, that he evidently offered for sale in his "Southern" themed restaurants.
Wonder why the writer didn't describe them as such, perhaps so as not to reveal the existence of books that can be ordered from Amazon.com.
Carolina is pork territory. How is it? [the sauce, that is]
Barbecue ping, but only because I respect you. Yum!
I initally bought a few bottles of Carolina Gold and it was great. I'm out right now and need to order some more. For the record, I try all kinds of sauce, rubs, and homemade concoctions...so I can appreciate different styles.
I would have never know about Maurices BBQ had walmart and others quit carrying the sauce. Since discovering it, I have been a fan.
Bessinger has every right to speak his mind, and the grocery chains have the same right to choose not to be associated with it. The first amendment cuts both ways.
Politics aside, is the sauce any good? The shelves are full of Texas/KC-style tomato-based sauces, but a good spicy mustard-based sauce is harder to come by.
Dude, anyplace that calls itself "Piggy Park" automatically gets points on the West Coast Barbecue-challenged Must-Eat Meter.
I like to think of it as PC working both ways.
I'll Dogpile for a link. Gracias!
I have to agree with the courts on this one. He took a public stand, and part of that is accepting the consequences.
I miss hearing his commercials, though. "Barbecue is barbecue!" He reminds me of that slightly addled uncle that everybody is very polite around at Thanksgiving because they don't want to set him off on some rant about something. :)
His BBQ's not bad, either. Not mind-bogglingly great, but pretty good.
I visited the piggy park location while driving through Columbia and since that point have been a huge fan of the mustard sauce. The buffet is a little disturbing at first glance though, as most items look like vomit.
The confederate theming of the restaurant is also troubling at first glance. There are "Lincoln was wrong" post cards for sale and a lot of rebel-flag emblazoned items. If I were a black man from the north, I wouldn't have eaten there. That being said, the gift shop cashier lady was black.
(btw most "piggy park" sauce recipes on the interweb are big liars, the sauce is bright gold in color and rather sweet. If you brew up a batch from a recipe and it's sour or anything other than bright yellow, throw it out. )
Very good. Big fan of the mustard based sauces in the Carolinas here. And the Piggy Park is fun to visit.
He probably has a web site. Don't know about the quality of his BBQ sauce but the best store bought BBQ sauce I have ever tasted is Headcountry, from Oklahoma. They do have a web site, www,headcountry.com, you might want to try it. I like the Hickory smoke flavored.
Please add me to your ping list.
The last time I was in the Carolinas I bought a bunch of southern Barbeque sauce. One was gold colored. Yummy!!! You "seccessionists," as we yankees used to call you back in 1862, sure know how to make really good sauces.
I order mine by the case on line. Maurice has a web site as I'm sure most aficionados of his sauce are aware.
I'm a Texan, and we don't use BBQ sauce from OKLAHOMA! :)
(against our religon :)
Mr. Bessinger has a perfect right to fly any flag he chooses over his store.
Other stores have a perfect right to choose which merchandise they do and do not sell in their stores.
It's called the American Way and I thank God for it!
Them's fightin' words, we might just come down and take the whole dam* river!!
That's a problem?
I live just a few miles from his primary business in West Columbia, and there are several smaller drive through locations spread around the greater Columbia area, so getting his sauces is not a problem for me. Ive also eaten at the one near Santee Lake. Its a bit pricey as barbecue goes, but it is also very distinctive in its taste. The Big Joe sandwich is pretty good eating.
With that said, Ill reveal a secret. The best barbecue on the face of the planet comes from a little mom & pop buffet in New Ellenton, SC called Carolina Barbecue. I ate there yesterday, and let me tell you, its hard to stop at just one plate.
Don't you know that everybody north of the Red River are Yankees? :)
Try some real Texas Barbeque sometime....we cook BEEF, (not pigs) :)
A photo of Mr Bessinger.
Some say Mr. Bessinger believes in slavery. I worked at his original Piggy Park restaurant in 1977 and I can tell you, he does. :-)
I fully support Mr. Bessinger and his cause. Frankly I think the grocery stores bowed to PC pressure prematurely and needlessly. That being said, I can't actually use Maurice's sauce because it is not made the only way one is supposed to make sauce. Eastern NC vinegar style
Now since you mentioned the Raleigh area have you been to Lexington BBQ, and what is your opinion?
I suspect Bessinger and his lawyer/s knew all along they couldn't win this case -- and that the publicity would boost sales.
That's possible, but I'm not so sure about that. I think it's easy to be as hypocritical as the Dixie Chicks on the subject of Free Speech when you find yourself suffering negative financial consequences for asserting your right to Free Speech.
The best barbecue comes from Wilbur's Barbecue in Goldsboro, NC.
What? Mustard-based, gag.
Please add me to your ping list too. You must be a member of the SCV.
“What? Mustard-based, gag.”
I like both vinegar and ketchup based (depending on the type of q, but mustard sauce is banned from my house.
I tend to agree, though it wasn't really a free speech case, it was a distributorship case. He argued that he had a contract with the stores to sell the sauce and the stores breached the contract when they dropped the sauce. He had also argued unfair trade practices claims, also based on the stores' decision to drop the sauce.
Really, this case could have gone either way, and I'm pretty confident that there are states in the Union in which he would have won his case.