Larry Cullen and Mike Grossman are from Berwyn and River Forest, respectively.
Around these parts, for years, the pretty much undisputed king of BBQ sauce has been Charlie Robinson.
Uncle Dougie's plans to change all that, and this twenty-year-old brand has recently been given a new look.
Uncle Dougie's makes a range of tomato-based products, including BBQ sauce, hot sauce and Bloody Mary mix.
According to Cullen, a big advantage of Uncle Dougie's is the "clean label." When I I asked about that, he explained "Clean label means 'no crap' --no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors, chemicals or preservatives. The BBQ sauces use ingredients like honey and brown sugar. Everyone is trying to put less chemicals in their body."
The hot sauce has a peppery kick, but it's relatively laid back compared to some sauces on the market that seem to trade on the amount of pain they promise the user. If you Google "hot sauce," you'll be appalled by some of the names companies give their product; for instance, Pain 100%
Uncle Dougie's hot sauce, by comparison, is pretty tame, which means it enhances the food with chile flavor; it doesn't destroy the tongue.
According to Cullen, Uncle Dougie's Bloody Mary "contains real stuff, California tomatoes, pomegranate, mango, apples for sweetness, just good pure stuff."
I had a Bloody Mary (actually, two) made of Uncle Dougie's mix and found it way less salty and more flavorful than competitive brands, like Mr. and Mrs. T. I would agree, too, that the flavor is "cleaner," less heavy with corn syrup but still substantial.
Locally, you can purchase Uncle Dougie's at Jewel and Whole Foods.
Answer Book 2016
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