Report: Maurice lowers the Confederate flag (some of ’em, anyway)

A friend just brought my attention to this startling news:

The South’s most notorious barbecue joint is warning customers they’ll have to buy more pit-cooked pork if they ever want to see the Confederate flag fly again.

Maurice’s Gourmet Barbeque’s Maurice Bessinger, who hoisted the stars and bars over his nine Columbia-area restaurants on the day, almost a decade ago, when South Carolina permanently lowered the Confederate flag from its capitol dome, told a local television station this week that he could no longer afford to keep his controversial flags flying — and it’s not for the reasons you’d think.

Bessinger’s empire, built on a secret recipe for yellow sauce and his reputation as an old-style Southern charmer, was once the nation’s biggest commercial barbecue operation. But his open embrace of a symbol indelibly associated with slavery disgusted many of his customers and dismayed most of his business associates. Walmart pulled his Southern Gold sauce off its shelves, and, according to Bessinger’s autobiography, Defending My Heritage, the company lost 98 percent of its wholesale business.
Still, Bessinger claims he isn’t trying to woo back barbecue fans who were repelled by his rebel politics. He’s instead blaming the recession for the rising cost of dry cleaning.

“Bessigner says the flags cost too much money to maintain,” a report on WLTX’s website explained.

The Confederate flag will still wave over two Maurice’s locations, but the South Carolina state flag will fly at the other restaurants in the chain. According to the WLTX report, the Confederate flags will return if “the economy picks up.”

Wow. An interesting bit of rationalization. And an interesting, and positive development.

Of course, it raises new questions: Why keep it up at two locations? Which locations, and why those in particular? Does dry cleaning cost less at those locations? What?

Anyway, this is an interesting juxtaposition of the marketplace of ideas and the just plain marketplace.

Also, an interesting media question arises: WLTX reported this five days ago, and I still haven’t read it in The State? Or anywhere? Did y’all know about this?

Did someone check it out and find it to be a hoax? If so, wouldn’t THAT have been worth reporting? Interestinger and interestinger…

15 thoughts on “Report: Maurice lowers the Confederate flag (some of ’em, anyway)

  1. uncle danny

    I have a hard time believing he can’t afford to dry clean those flags, which makes me wonder how much of my tax money goes to clean that damned flag in front of the State house.
    Since I don’t care at all for his barbecue, I’ve always been surprised he has lasted this long. And when he opened his mouth, wrote his book and tried to sue when stores took his sauce off of the shelves, well, that could only hurt his business. Although I do know someone who eats there just because he flies those flags.
    That said, I met him and his son recently and they were very nice people and I had a nice conversation with them.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    I am of German heritage and d@mn proud of it, and although my family has been here since at least 1890, if my family were of Nazi vintage, would my defense of my “heritage” by flying a Nazi era flag be as tolerated by those who so vigorously defend their Confederate heritage? Modern Germany has definitively rejected its Nazi heritage, while continuing to celebrate non-Nazis such as Ludwig Beethoven and Max Planck. Why do Southerners persist in glorifying the slavery defenders? Surely there are Southerners of note who were not Civil Warriors! How about celebrating them, Maurice?

  3. Walter

    Who dry cleans a flag?

    The only reason I wouldn’t mind seeing them go out of business is that this is a poor excuse for SC barbeque. It’s nothing more than a bunch of mustard sauce with a little pork added for texture. It’s like going to a barbeque place that has banana pudding, and trying to actually find a slice of banana.

  4. jfx

    It’s not all mediocre barbecue, acrid sauce, trailer park ambiance, and cultural bankruptcy. They do serve a very good cheeseburger.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    There’s a drycleaners on Garner’s Ferry that advertises it cleans flags for free. I don’t know if they will only do US ones….

  6. Walter

    So Kathryn… which side did your ancestors fight on. If it was the South, would you stand behind your great, great grandfather’s decision to fight for what he believed in? Or would you be ashamed of him.

    How do you feel about the founding fathers of this country? Most if not all were slave owners. Do you defend your US heritage and respect the flag?

  7. Elliott

    I love Piggy Park barbecue sauce which disappeared from the shelves of the local Walmart and Piggly Wiggly almost ten years ago. I wanted to stock up on it when I was in Columbia, but I was self-conscious about going in Maurice’s. With all of the confederate flag controversy publicity I only felt comfortable going in wearing a bag on my head. Now, I just have to figure out which Maurice’s have taken the flag down and head down to Columbia to get a few months supply of Piggy Park barbecue sauce. Thanks for the news item, Brad. This is the only place I’ve read it and it is news I can really use.

  8. Steve Gordy

    I made the mistake of stopping at Maurice’s in Santee (at the I-95) exit last year on a business trip. I think the BBQ was lousy ’cause they wanted to scare off the Yankees. But why did they build it there?

  9. martin

    You have to go to Clarendon and Williamsburg counties to get real barbeque.
    When you get it there, you don’t need any stupid sauce. It opens your sinuses all by itself.

  10. Chris Oder aka sallizar

    I noticed the flags were gone at most of the Northeast locations a few weeks ago… Was wondering what was up…

    I grew up with Ward’s BBQ in Sumter… Pizza Lane on Spears Creek is serving it now… I’m a super happy camper!

    Anyone have a link to Maurice’s Daily Show appearance? Nothing on YouTube… I vaguely recall a young Colbert doing a great job of interviewing him…

  11. HP

    Michael –


    The best part of that clip is Glenn McConnell @ :55:


    Yeah = we ‘progressed’ from cotton to nylon.

  12. Kathryn Fenner

    @Walter, my ancestors were in Germany during the Civil War. My great uncle “Bill” fought for Kaiser Wilhelm before he was Kaiser Wilhelm.

    I hope if my ancestors had been here, they would have fought to free the slaves and end slavery, but would have crafted a sort of Marshall Plan to help the South rebuild its economy, formerly built on human capital, instead of leaving it in ruins to rebuild itself, bootstrap-style. If they *had* fought to preserve slavery, I would not be proud of them any more than I am proud of my late grandmother’s anti-Polish bigotry.I understand where she was coming from, but I am ashamed that she was the way she was.

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