Famous Dave’s Wants You to Crank Up the Grill

My husband's glorious ribs dressed with Famous Dave's rib rub and barbecue sauce.

My husband’s glorious ribs dressed with Famous Dave’s rib rub and Georgia Mustard barbecue sauce.


You have to hand it to Dave Anderson.

By his own admission, he wasn’t the best of students. But one thing he did excel at was barbecuing in big fiery wood smokers.

So much so that he started his first barbecue joint in Wisconsin in 1994. Today, he has Famous Dave’s locations throughout more than 35 states. Plus a line of barbecue sauces and rubs, which is what I had a chance to try samples of recently.

With my husband, aka Meat Boy, hankering to cook up a slew of ribs, we gave the Rib Rub ($3.89 for a 5.5-ounce container) a shot. Anderson says his award-winning ribs just wouldn’t be the same without this blend of sugar, salt, habanero powder, smoke flavor and paprika, plus dehydrated onion, carrot, tomatoes, red pepper, and parsley.

The rub definitely has sweetness to it (sugar is the first ingredient listed), plus just a prickle of heat. My husband thought it had an over-abundance of celery salt or seed. Though, it was hard to tell if that was actually in there under the “spices” umbrella given on the ingredients list.

I wouldn’t say the mixture was necessarily distinctive. My husband thought the rub tasted better in tandem with one of Dave’s BBQ Sauces ($3.50 for a 20-ounce bottle).

Getting up close and personal with the rib rub.

Getting up close and personal with the rib rub.

Famous Dave's Rich & Sassy sauce.

Famous Dave’s Rich & Sassy sauce.

The Rich & Sassy lists high fructose corn syrup as the first ingredient. And it is pretty darn sweet. Almost ketchup-sweet. It also has pineapple juice, honey, molasses and tomato paste. There’s a nice tang and smokiness, but you definitely need to like your barbecue sauce on the sweeter side with this one.

I preferred the Georgia Mustard, which packs a real punch of piquant sharpness thanks to distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar and of course, plenty of mustard. This one is a whole lot less sweet (sugar is the sixth ingredient on the list), too.

My guess is that kids will prefer the Rich & Sassy, while the grown-ups will reach for the more assertive Georgia Mustard instead.

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