The Great Divide: Eastern Vs. Western NC Barbecue

The Great Divide: Eastern Vs. Western NC Barbecue

Vinegar-based or tomato-based?
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Across America, especially in the South, barbecue is a dietary staple of game day, family reunions and Sunday dinner. Small town barbecue joints, annual church "Pig Pickin's" and washing down your barbecue sandwich with an ice cold sweet tea while tailgating are all integral to life in the American South. Barbecue is familiar and classic, a comfort food, but despite this it's not as simple as it seems.

Barbecue varies from state to state and even regionally within states. Being raised in North Carolina has made me quite sensitive to these variations. From the day I learned to chew food, I was fed Barbecue and repeatedly lectured on the two varieties of this seemingly sacred pork product. I was taught that there is Eastern North Carolina barbecue and Western North Carolina barbecue. After a while, I began to notice that people from the Eastern and Western parts of the state both seemed fiercely proud of their variety of Barbecue. My family, being from the East, holds a unwavering preference for Eastern style. Both the East and the West claim their barbecue is undoubtably the best. While interviewing him for this article, my Grandfather perfectly exemplified this by simply stating, "If it's from the east, it tastes good, if it's from the west, it tastes bad." I have always found this age old competition fascinating. Having tried both types of barbecue, and finding them both delicious, I was inspired to do some research in order to find out which variety was truly the best.

To conduct my research I consulted my Great Aunt and Uncle, Dr. Frank Dawkins and Dr. Karen Dawkins, who recently became certified BBQ judges for the North Carolina Barbecue Society. (The fact that there is an entire society devoted to Barbecue demonstrates just how seriously North Carolinians take their BBQ.) The first thing I asked them was to explain the difference between Eastern and Western style.

They explained that Eastern style BBQ (pictured below) is made with a vinegar-based sauce that usually also includes sugar and red pepper. This variety is made with meat from many different areas of the pig.

Then they explained that Western-style BBQ (pictured below), also called Lexington style, is also made with a vinegar based sauce but that sauce includes a tomato or ketchup component. Western BBQ is usually sweeter, redder in color, and made only with pork shoulder.

After learning the difference between the two types of NC barbecue, I asked them as certified Barbecue Judges how they evaluate the quality of BBQ. They told me that BBQ judging is pretty subjective but overall BBQ is judged on three things: taste, tenderness, and appearance. I then proceeded to ask them the big question, Which is better, Eastern style BBQ or Western style BBQ? Their answer was that there is no real way of telling. They said because people seem to favor the barbecue from their hometown or region, Eastern style wins in the East, and Western style wins in the West, because the judges for competitions in the East are usually from the East, and judges for competitions in the West are usually from the West. I appreciated the honesty of this answer, but I realized I had to deem my research inconclusive.

It was difficult to accept that I will never know which style of barbecue is truly the best, but at least I am now very educated about regional pork flavors. My hope is that one day the people of North Carolina will accept that all BBQ is delectable and be united by their love of pork.

Cover Image Credit: Epicurious

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6 Times It’s Actually OK To Be Rude To Retail Workers

It might surprise you.

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As a retail worker myself, I know firsthand that customers aren't always the kindest to the employees trying to help them out.

I've seen customers snapping at workers, getting angry when things don't go their way, and leaving huge messes around the store that employees have to clean up. Retail employees have to work hard on their feet for very little pay, and they deserve to be treated with kindness for the work they put in.

Here are 6 times that it's OK to treat retail employees with anything less than respect.

1. Never

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Retail employees are trying their best to help you out – customer service is the main part of their jobs, and they really do make an effort to help customers find what they're looking for, even when they ask for something unreasonable. Snapping at employees isn't going to speed up the process.

2. Never

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Contrary to popular (and bewilderingly misguided) belief, retail employees have very little control over the contents of the store. If the shirt you wanted to buy isn't in stock in your size, it's not the employee's fault. I repeat: it's not the employee's fault! They're just the bearer of bad news and can't fix the situation for you.

3. Never

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Retail employees do have to keep the store clean, but that doesn't mean that customers should feel free to make a mess. When you leave trash in the store and a tangled heap of clothing in the fitting room, they're the ones who have to clean up after you.

Also, when you tear up a display looking for your size, someone has to refold and reorganized all of those clothes, and can you guess who that has to be?

4. Never

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Many retail employees have to work terrible hours, what with overnight shifts and having to open the store early in the morning or close it down late at night. Most of them are exhausted and are doing the best work they can on that amount of sleep.

5. Never

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Keep in mind that yelling at a retail employee when you get frustrated does count as verbal abuse, and it is never acceptable. This makes a huge impact on retail employee's days (as one would expect being yelled at by a stranger might entail).

6. Never

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Even if you're feeling frustrated about something, please stop for a moment and continue to treat the employees trying to help you like they're human beings. No one deserves to be mistreated at work.

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College Students Have 4 Main Food Groups

Be sure to get these foods in order to have a successful and healthy college career.

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As Buddy the Elf mentioned in "Elf", the four main food groups for elves are candy, candy cane, candy corn, and syrup. Now, it's time to forget about what they taught us in health class about nutrition because what a college student eats is way different from what we relied on in high school. Our health teachers in high school told us fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy were the food groups humans needed to be healthy. However, college students have a different food group and lifestyle that what we learned in our health class. Here are the four food groups you need in order to survive college:

1. Energy drinks

Whether you have to pull an all nighter as a result of procrastinating on a 10 page paper, or simply need a simple boost of energy, these will get the job done (even though they might not be the healthiest choice.) Red Bulls, Monsters, and 5-Hour Energy Drinks are just a few examples of some energy drinks. Just be careful not to become addicted to them as they are full of sugar. These are perfect for the all nighter, and for the days you feel tired and don't want to get out of bed.

2. Coffee

Are energy drinks not your favorite? If so, then coffee is an essential for college. Whether if you are into iced coffee, lattes, decaffeinated coffees, or black coffee, there is a coffee out there for everyone. Also, you can choose to brew your coffee at home with a coffee maker or a keurig, or make a Dunkin or Starbucks stop before class. Coffee is great for staying focused during class and completing homework projects and assignments outside of class.

3. Gum

Remember in grade school how teachers did not like when you chewed bubble gum? Well in college, it's totally different. You can chew as much bubble gum as you like and nobody can judge you for the amount of gum you chew! From the traditional mint flavor bubble gum to more obscure ones, there is a flavor for everyone to chew on. This is perfect for getting through boring lectures, and it makes you more focused. Plus, you can be a good person and share your bubble gum with others. It is a way to spark up a conversation, and a way to stay focused during your college career.

4. Microwave meals

Let's face reality, most first year college students come into the semester with little to no cooking skills. Thus, microwavable meals become an essential. Whether you are tired of the on campus dining food, or do not have enough money on your meal plan, these become your best friend (again, not the healthiest choice, but you have to do what you have to do sometimes). From ramen, mac n cheese, and popcorn you can make almost anything with the push of a button on the microwave. These meals are great because they are not time consuming, your meal will be ready in a few short minutes as opposed to cooking a meal over the stove or oven. Just remember to brush up on your cooking skills so you can start cooking as you transition out of college.

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