Rebel sauce: the rise and fall of Confederate 'Q
Original: Eat at Joe's (Holly Hill, SC)
Offshoots: Maurice's Piggie Park BBQ (various locations), Melvin's Bar-B-Q (Mount Pleasant & Charleston, SC), Bessinger's Bar-Be-Que (Charleston, SC), Roberts Bar-B-Que (North Charleston, SC)
Joe Bessinger began the family's barbecue tradition back in 1939 with a lip-smacking mustard sauce, followed by an eponymous eatery. As reported by the NY Times, a rift began amongst his sons over who would inherit the keys to the family business. By the '70s, Maurice, Melvin, and Thomas were all running their own restaurants, with brother Robert soon to follow.
Of the four brothers, Maurice rose to the most prominence, with 14 locations and one of the most popular bottled sauce companies in the country... until he began putting the Confederate flag on his bottle and at storefronts to protest the removal of the rebel flag from the state's capitol in 1999. The move destroyed his sauce business, creating a void that was quickly filled by a similar sauce sold by his enterprising brother Melvin.
Although Thomas and Robert have largely kept quiet during the feud, Melvin and Maurice were quite vocal about their dislike for each other. Maurice libeled Melvin's character in his tell-all autobiography, while Melvin bemoaned to the press the racist tendencies of his brother. Earlier this year, Maurice passed away, and, according to his son Lloyd, all of the Confederate flags have now been removed.
Not surprisingly, the biography pages on each of the brothers' websites give no mention to the rival sibling-run restaurants.