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The Barbecue Wars Continue: Report from South Carolina

close and family

When Brandon Close started dabbling in sauce at a South Carolina barbecue joint, he never imagined that it would be the spark that would ignite Chipper Dog BBQ.

However, it wasn’t until his passion for the art of barbecue collided head on with a global pandemic that he was inspired to place a bet on himself and seize the moment.

As lockdowns and restrictions brought the restaurant industry to a standstill, Close, who had a long career working in appliance repair (but who had been working at a barbecue restaurant to fill his hours), put the gears in motion to launch his own line of barbecue products. In April of 2020, he founded Chipper Dog BBQ, and by October of the same year, Old Yella, Close’s mustard-style barbecue sauce, was ready to roll.

chipper dog bbq products

And it all started with a bag of Carolina-style mustard barbecue chips. “I tried them and I was fascinated,” Close said. And so, he started experimenting with different sauces to create a signature style unique to where he lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

Living in a state like South Carolina, with all its different varieties of sauces and many barbecue fans, meant coming up with something distinctive and true to the region.

“South Carolina has all four regions,” he explained. “We have the mustard, which up in the Myrtle Beach area is vinegar-based. Greenville is your traditional barbecue, using tomatoes like Sweet Baby Ray’s style. Then, around the Charlotte area is a thin tomato-based mix between the two, similar to our red sauce.”

chicken melt

To date, Chipper Dog BBQ, which incidentally is named after Close’s “best friend and loyal business partner,” his Olde English Bulldog, Chipper, is already in over 150 stores from Raleigh, North Carolina to Atlanta and everywhere in between. For most small businesses, the leap from inception to placement on national retailers’ shelves in such a short time is unprecedented. Chipper Dog BBQ’s rapid success begs the question: What’s Close’s secret?

“We use the best quality ingredients we can, we keep it simple. We don’t add anything to it that doesn’t need to be added,” Close said. “We’d like our sauce to speak for itself.”

Within the next year, he aims to expand Chipper Dog BBQ to more regions, giving more people all across the nation access to old school South Carolina barbecue flavor. “There haven’t been a whole lot of new mustard barbecue sauces,” he said. “So people have been excited about us. That’s kind of cool.”


Nina Derwin

Nina Derwin is a Brooklyn-based writer with a passion for the art of storytelling. In addition to writing for various clients and publications, Nina has written several episodes of scripted television for networks including Starz and Fox.


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