The Dad’s BBQ Breakdown

Barbecue Sauce Dripping

What is Barbecue?

BBQ, if speaking literally, is a method of cooking meat “low and slow,” as the saying goes, usually in a pit or a smoker. But BBQ is also the best dipping sauce for chicken fingers and the third-best flavor of potato chip (Salt ‘n Vinegar is where it’s at). To some folks, a BBQ is even just a gathering of friends and family, with food cooked on a grill, and no actual barbecue involved.  

People have different ideas about what makes BBQ. There are four main regional varieties, from which most BBQ flavors derive, but what makes each unique? We wanted to know more about what defines the definitive American meal, so Kroger hooked us up with the details that went into making their Private Selection Regional BBQ Sauces. While regional BBQ is about more than sauce, the Kroger team did extensive research in bringing to life the handcrafted flavors that put the BBQ Belt on the map. Grab your bib; we’re digging in. 

The Beginning

Before we get into a big internet brawl over where “real BBQ” comes from, let’s get on the same page as to how it all began.  “Barbacoa” is the word Spanish settlers used for the indigenous cooking method of roasting meat with indirect heat in a pit in the ground. The Spanish took the idea North to the European colonies where this whole USA thing kicked off. You didn’t need expensive cuts of meat to make a lot of delicious food this way. So, as the colonies expanded, BBQ became an affordable crowd-pleaser for church picnics, political rallies, and other community events. 

The Carolinas

A purist will tell you BBQ belongs to the Carolinas. That’s where the real beginnings of what we call BBQ today took place. The Carolinas insist that hog is the only animal worthy of the name “BBQ” and pride themselves on chopped pork sandwiches and whole-hog roasts. Back then pigs were abundant in the south, but they were much leaner than the porkers of today, so slow-roasting them over a pit was the best way to tenderize the meat.

Even more unique is the Carolina BBQ flavor, which comes not just from the meat…but the mustard. In the 1700s, the government gave German immigrants land grants in hopes of boosting South Carolina’s agriculture economy, and they all brought mustard with them. A lot of BBQ is rich and sweet, but the original BBQ sauces out of this region were mustard and vinegar-based. To this day, an excellent Carolina-inspired sauce will be bright, and tangy, with just a hint of sweetness.


Smoked meats over a BBQ Pit

As people set out for the West to claim their fortune, they brought the BBQ fad with them. However, cowboys aren’t called pigboys for a reason, and brisket became the go-to meat for Texas-style BBQ. Even though beef is tender without a long cooking process, smoking would help it keep longer. No “pard’ners” complained about this development.

Sauce is more of a finishing touch in the Lone Star State, so Texans adapted theirs to be thicker and richer. The vinegar base is rounded with Worchestershire and roasted tomatoes, but the real kicker in a Texas-Inspired BBQ sauce is the black pepper flavor that hits your tongue right away. Pour this over sliced brisket, ribs, and sausages smoked for up to 16 hours for BBQ that punches you in the jaw, and melts in your mouth. 


Memphis is most famous for dry-rubbed pork ribs, but that doesn’t mean they skimp on the sauce. Ribs are rubbed in a (dry, obviously) mixture of seasonings that give it a hickory flavor, but once those bad boys come out of the smoker, dipping is fair game. 

Bluff City is a port town, so when BBQ aficionados set up shop, they had access to a lot of new ingredients. The Mississippi River’s favorite cargo was molasses, which is where the sweet, sticky style of BBQ sauce many Americans love comes from. The best Memphis-Inspired sauces feature a tangy flavor as rich as the blues, paired with the sweet touch of molasses. We may not use Old Man River like we used to, but the region’s history as a shipping hub allowed their distinctive style of sauce to spread far and wide.  

Kansas City

The last stop on our BBQ tour is Kansas City, a town with just two men to thank for putting them on the meat map of America. In 1908 Henry Perry began to marry East and West traditions by selling racks of ribs, sliced brisket and fatty pork-ends on sheets of newsprint for a quarter. When his friend Arthur Bryant took over the restaurant, he added a peppery flavor to the signature sauce that went on to become legendary.

Kansas City Ribs

You may not be able to find Bryant’s recipe, but a good Kansas City Inspired BBQ Sauce is made in the same tradition. The sauce from this region is thicker than most, with the same sweet molasses flavor from Memphis, but subtle peppercorn notes that give it a unique spin.

What’s Next? 

The thing about BBQ is permeation. It is not one method or flavor but a slowly evolving tradition. BBQ takes its time. Back in prohibition days, when BBQ restaurants first started popping up in Memphis and Kansas City, the idea of alcohol-infused sauces would have gotten some strange looks. If you managed to get your hands on booze, why would you douse a pork shoulder with it? These days -thank the maker- alcohol isn’t as frowned upon, and chefs are finding exciting ways to incorporate it into unique regional flavors. Small batch sauces like a Pale Ale & Mustard Craft BBQ Sauce add a hoppy kick to the traditional Carolina flavors, while a Kentucky Bourbon sauce adds oaky texture to the sweeter side of BBQ. Bourbon and Balsamic Steak Sauce, while not technically BBQ, brings the spirit of the cuisine full circle by creating gourmet flavors at an affordable price point.

Kroger PS Bourbon BBQ Sauce

So at the end of the day, there is no single BBQ experience. There are four regional varieties, with an ever-growing list of sub-categories, but my dad will still call throwing some chicken wings on the grill “having a BBQ.”  The truth is, real BBQ isn’t tied to one meat, flavor, or even method of cooking. What BBQ is really about, is taking the time to appreciate what you’ve got, and getting to try something that could be new, but is always familiar. 

This article was sponsored by Kroger’s Private Selection Brand, who provided us with each of their regional BBQ sauces. Kroger believes that summertime should be simple, and from gourmet ingredients to inspired shortcuts, every Private Selection product is designed to elevate any occasion.

This post was sponsored by:
Kroger’s Private Selection™️

Mortal Kombat Let a DJ Voice Sub-Zero and Got a Cold Response From Fans

Dimitri Vegas as Sub-Zero

Years ago, around the time George Lucas re-released the original Star Wars trilogy with strange new flourishes – including a bizarre musical number on Jabba’s barge, and then followed those debacles up with the Star Wars prequels and a misbegotten sequel to Indiana Jones, fanboys online started using a phrase to describe what the director had done.

They claimed that Lucas had basically ruined their childhood by mangling the beloved movies and characters they’d grown up with and felt a strong connection to. Overdramatic, yes, but it’s a good indication of the ownership fans feel to their favorite properties, from movies and TV shows to books and even video games. Video games like Mortal Kombat, which is currently on the receiving end of a new round of pop culture criticism for a change to one of the character’s voices.

Mortal Kombat 11 comes out on August 22nd, and one of the latest version’s updates includes DJ Dmitri Vegas stepping in to voice Sub-Zero, one of the game’s iconic fighters.

Vegas is clearly excited about his inclusion in the game, and the music he helped create for the property.

Unfortunately for the DJ, a few clips featuring his voice-work have been released, and fans are less than pleased with his tone and delivery. Some are trying to be diplomatic, but their feelings are clear…

Others aren’t holding back.

He’s being compared to a puppet:

One person explained why it hurts so bad:

At least some are looking at the bright side:

Thankfully, no one has called for the game’s makers to FINISH HIM! But there’s still time…

Dad Rents Billboard Outside Children’s Hospital to Thank Staff

Dan Driscoll's Thank You Billboard
(Facebook/Brenner Children's Hospital)

3-year-old Daniel Driscoll was recently admitted to Brenner Children’s Hospital with a bone infection. After spending a full seven days undergoing treatment, Daniel and his family were grateful to be heading home, but even more thankful to the staff of doctors and nurses who cared for Daniel during his stay.

Initially unsure of how to fully express their gratitude, Daniel’s dad eventually saw a sign… literally.

While reflecting on their time spent in the hospital room, he remembered a large billboard that sat adjacent to where he and his son spent much of their stay. “Daniel and I would tell time sitting in the window, especially when a helicopter would land and one of the things we could see was that billboard,” recalled Dan Driscoll, Daniel’s father. He wanted a way to thank everyone involved in his son’s care, saying they “had been absolutely amazing and incredible in every single way.”

Once back home, Daniel placed a call to the company who leases space on the rotating digital billboard and booked the biggest thank you card the staff at Brenner’s has ever received. The sign, which is visible from many wings of the hospital, may be large in scale, but still pales in comparison to the amount of gratitude felt by the Driscoll’s for the care and attention they received over their weeklong occupancy.

Wendy Brown, one of the nurses charged with Daniel’s care, told local affiliate FOX8 that everyone at Brenner appreciated the massive gesture. “It’s just spectacular, I mean it’s just so unique. It’s just a cool way to say thank you and all of us really appreciated it. Sometimes this can be a thankless job and that was one heck of a way to say thank you.”

Now, just over a month after being released, the thankful dad says Daniel is recovering and “doing great.” It’s yet another testament to the quality of care he received and to the power of people coming together to care for our most precious little patients.

And that’s why a pair of brothers recently raised over $11k for a children’s hospital in Ohio by selling a 230 Lb hog.

Mario Kart Virtual Reality Is Bananas

Mario Kart VR

Every gamer worth his salt has daydreamed about what it would be like to cruise around Rainbow Road and fling turtle shells in first-person, and now it’s finally a (virtual) reality.

Mario Kart VR has already been making waves in Japan and London, but it’s finally made its way to the States and people are losing their damn minds over it. The immersive driving sim finally throws drivers into a physical vehicle complete with pedals and a steering wheel and lets them duke it out for ultimate bragging rights.

Featured in Bandai Namco’s “VR Zone Portal,” this traveling attraction isn’t quite as large as the VR Zone in Tokyo or Osaka, but it’s still enough to get our engines revving.

Drivers don HTC Vive headsets and play an entire race in first-person as either Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Toad, physically snatching items out of the sky battling it out for first place.

Plus, if you want even more immersive VR experiences when you’re done, the VR Portal also features Argyle Shift and Ski Rodeo—a first-person mech game and skiing simulator respectively. All three games are available to play on a first-come-first-served basis but expect longer lines for Nintendo’s flagship racer.

The game center was initially offered in Washington DC’s Union Station but has since made its way to Orange County, Southern California at the “VR Zone Portal” Irvine, located at the K1 Speed entertainment center.

No word yet regarding where the VR Tour is headed next, but we’d recommend putting in some practice laps at home just in case it’s within driving distance. Just make sure you abide by traffic laws until you get there.

I wonder if Mario Kart VR will have the same positive effects on a marriage that the other Mario titles do?

New Teaser Trailer Reveals Bond 25’s Official Title

Bond 25 Title Reveal
(YouTube/James Bond 007)

We know who the bad guy is.

We know who the Bond girl is.

We know where the action will take place.

And we know the plot.

Bond, having left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. But his peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.

But we never knew the title.

Until now.

If you’d like a complete recap of everything else we know – check out our summary of the Bond 25 live reveal.

Tennessee Dad Builds Son’s Baseball Team Their Own Field of Dreams

Tony Cortez Builds Baseball Field

When youth baseball coach Tony Cortez was having trouble finding a place for his team to play, the Murfreesboro, Tennessee dad did the only thing he could: He built them a field in his own backyard.

While that may seem like an over-the-top solution to most, Cortez says it just made sense to him. “The short answer is we were running out of places to practice. As a travel team, it’s extremely hard to find a field,” Cortez recalls, so with help from the other parents and his neighbors, Tony got to work.

“Initially we just threw bases out there. We didn’t really do anything fancy,” Coach Cortez recently told WSMV, but what began as a humble practice surface is now an actual field of dreams. With Alabama brick dust lining the infield and professional bases adorning the dirt, the once empty lot is now the official home to the Cardinals youth baseball team. “It gives the kids a place to play because kids need a pastime,” says Cortez.

Agreeing with Tony’s sentiment, parents and community members banded together to create this special place for their kids to play. Neighbor and fellow team parent, Emily Nowobielski, is still in awe of all the effort that went in to creating the field. “It took so much work and all of the wonderful people that pitched in. I mean, the countless hours that Tony spent doing this. Five days a week people were out here working on it.”

Tony’s son, Logan Cortez, says the best part is that now he and his teammates have the opportunity to practice whenever they want.  “It’s awesome because any day I want, I can just walk outside and practice baseball. I can just get a bucket of balls, come out here and hit some.” For a kid who loves America’s pastime the way Logan does, that’s about as good as it gets.

Tony adding “I hope we don’t get in trouble for it, but we’re calling it the field of dreams.” While Cortez admits they’re not located in the middle of a cornfield, the deluxe dirt diamond still hosts plenty of Major League dreams for the young players who are fortunate enough to call it home.


Once known only to by those involved, Cortez says the field is now the talk of the town. “I’ve had people calling me. They see the pictures on Facebook and social media and they’re like ‘holy cow, is that really your field?’ “ to which the proud parent gets to reply “Yeah, it’s really our field.”

Another dad in Ohio recently built a baseball field in his backyard – because there are no limits when a father is on a mission for his kids!

Father Figures: Perfect

“6 years ago in March, my wife gave birth to our first baby, a perfect little girl we named Annabel. I remember as soon as I saw her under the warming lights, I put my finger in and she grabbed it with a little tiny baby death grip. Best day of my life at that point.

Few days later, my wife was convinced something wasn’t right. Our baby’s oxygen levels were going down, and her lips would turn blue when she ate, which wasn’t often. My wife demanded they run some tests, which they finally agreed to, even over my objections that she was overreacting.

We had to to go home, leaving our little girl in the NICU, but we were convinced everything would be fine and we’d take her home the next day. The staff laughed as we left, saying to enjoy our last full night of sleep.

The next day, we were told they did some tests and found she had a serious heart defect. Had they not found it, chances were good at some point in very early childhood, she would have gone to sleep and never woke up. Talk about heartbreaking.

We were told she needed to have open heart surgery, pretty quick. So, we got scheduled for about a week later. They set us up in a little hospital room, close to the NICU so we could stay there.

The nurses were amazing, one namely: Natalie. Answered every question we had, and couldn’t have been sweeter in the process, making sure we understood everything. She spent many a long night with us, reassuring us that everything would be just fine. There was risk, and we were told we should have her baptized in the hospital before surgery.

Open heart surgery went great. Divine inspiration touched, and just so happened the hospital we were at had the best cardiac surgeon for newborns, not just in the country, but likely in the world. For him, surgery was just another day in the office, obviously not the case for us. Still blows my mind.

6 years and several checkups later she couldn’t be healthier. Typical little girl, energetic, goofy, loves to play, and fortunately got her mother’s good looks. She’s got me wrapped around her little finger, no question about it. We thank god everyday for people like Dr. Illbawi, and our nurse, Natalie, who stood by our side through everything, and saved our little girl’s life.

4 years later, we had another little baby girl, we named her Natalie.

Both kids are perfect, no health issues at all, and I learned to never take a day for granted. I’ve been a cop for the past 11 years, she thinks I’m a superhero. Little girl has no idea it’s just the opposite.

All she has to remind her is a little scar on her chest, which I joke and say no guy will ever see anyway, barring a *Bad Boys 2* type introduction to me, and a few of my closest work friends.”

– Bryan Harl

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

The Little League World Series Has Its First Female Player in 5 Years

Maddy Freking Little League World Series

In the 70+ year history of the Little League World Series, only 18 girls have played. The last female to play at this level was star pitcher Mo’ne Davis in 2014 – she was a strikeout machine and is now a college softball pitcher.

Five years later, 12-year-old Maddie Freking has made history as the 19th female. The second-baseman for Coon Rapids-Andover caught SportsCenter’s eye with a heads up double play.

That double play ended up being a huge part of her team’s come from behind win in the regional finals. Afterward, Freking spoke about the reaction people have when they see a girl in the LLWS.

“Some people say, ‘Woah,’” she told the Pioneer Press. “Some think it’s cool, some not so much.”

Freking continues to play awesome and keeps making the highlight reel.

Maddy, we salute you.

Pumpkin Spice SPAM Is Coming This Fall

SPAM Pumpkin Spice
(SPAM/Hormel Foods)

I’m ready for fall. I’m ready for football and hoodies, I’m ready for colorful leaves and crisp autumn air, and I’m ready to say goodbye to this humidity, and the outrageously expensive electric bill from my constantly running air conditioners.

But I’m not ready for pumpkin spice season.

For one thing, it’s still August! For another, I don’t truck with pumpkin-flavored stuff. I don’t like pumpkin beers, or pumpkin lattes, or pumpkin pie. (I love me some roasted pumpkin seeds but that’s neither here nor there.) If you’re into those things, more power to you. I don’t have a problem with that. Based on sales, and also my Instagram feed, my disdain for the flavor makes me an outlier.

The pumpkin spice market is thriving. The limits are getting pushed and here we are.

According to CNN, Hormel Foods is making limited edition Pumpkin Spice Spam available online via Walmart and To produce their pumpkin spiced product, their proprietary pork isn’t mixed with any actual pumpkin. Instead, they use a mixture of cinnamon, clove, allspice, and nutmeg, which may or may not pair well with your pumpkin spice Starbucks. (Spam apparently recommends topping waffles with the stuff, or mixing it into fall vegetable hash, or baking up some Spam-infused cornbread muffins.) I don’t know what it mixes well with, and I won’t know, because not only do I not drink those, I’ve actually never had Spam.

Maybe I’ll give it a try someday, but if and when I do, you can bet your ass it won’t be the pumpkin spice kind.

For those that do it will be available on September 23.

Paul Walker’s Daughter Promotes Father’s Legacy with Touching Tribute

Meadow and Paul Walker

Paul Walker’s life ended tragically and unexpectedly almost 6 years ago, but the Fast and the Furious star’s memory continues to live on through his friends and family.

Walker’s 20-year-old daughter, Meadow, clearly had her dear dad on her mind last weekend when she posted a candid shot of him swimming around with an unusually aquatic pig.

“Thinking of you xx,” she captioned the shot.


View this post on Instagram


thinking of you xx

A post shared by Meadow Walker (@meadowwalker) on

The post prompted many of Walker’s co-stars and friends to chime in, too.

Fellow Fast & Furious actor, Tyrese Gibson, commented, “Animal and Ocean lover!!! Never seen this pic! So cool!”

“I love this picture,” wrote Jordana Brewster along with a heart emoji.

The Paul Walker Foundation, a group founded by Meadow herself in 2015, dropped a couple of heart emojis under the photo, too. The charity aims to empower future generations by protecting the oceans and wildlife and providing grants and scholarships to marine science students and researchers.

“Growing up in Hawaii I developed a strong connection with the ocean,” said Meadow, as quoted on the Foundation’s website. “My father loved the ocean and was always teaching me new things. I want this foundation to do many good things including help others who share my father’s passion.”

While clearly a Hollywood superstar, Walker was known by many for his outreach efforts and spontaneous acts of goodwill.

In a 2018 interview with People Magazine, Walker’s mother, Cheryl Walker, revealed that she had spoken with her son mere moments before his deadly car accident.

“We were having this good conversation, and he’d forgotten about an event he had,” said Cheryl. “He got a text and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m supposed to be somewhere!’”

Even though he never made it to the event—a charity car show for his Reach Out WorldWide initiative, which dispatches first responders to help with relief efforts after natural disasters—Walker’s beautiful legacy continues to unfold thanks to those who loved him most.