Forty years ago, B.B. Robertson, an entrepreneur from Marion, IL pulled into the parking lot of Ewald's Bar-B-Q. He had a camper on the back of his truck, pulling a trailer with a barbecue smoker on it behind him. This was the beginning of a new, more efficient, chapter in our history.
"I remember I had just graduated shortly before. It was in 1976 when B.B. told Dad [Ewald] to go over to Rozier's and buy a chicken and frozen turkey and he'd show what this machine could do in the morning. Ewald listened, and over night B.B. used the smoker he had built to cook to perfection, the next morning, we had some fantastic smoked meat!" says owner, Terry Buchheit, "After years of using Ewald's own custom built smoker, this new concept proved to be the right direction. We purchased the machine the next day; it was something to be proud of." At this time, the name-less company had only made three machines, the first was for their own barbecue restaurant. The first one ever sold was to Wibb's BBQ in Jackson, MO, who retired the machine many years ago, and the second machine sold, serial number 003, remained working and in use here at Ewald's until this month, 40 years later. "It was an extreme task to get the machine into the cinderblock building. We had to tear out the rear wall and Albert Winkler, owner of Winkler Wrecker Service, used his rig to reel the smoker into the building on skids that were built-in. With that said, a similar task had to be done to remove and replace machines this week. Luckily the wall was replaced with plywood instead of cinder blocks!"
It's estimated that the old smoker has cooked over 130 tons of meat over 50,000 hours. "It's pretty amazing to think about, and it's sad to see it go, but it has served us well! I'm excited to see how the new one looks, and how it improves our efficiency." said co-owner, Dotti Buchheit. The new machine, is definitely more efficient, and looks very sharp! The company, now forty years old this month, is called Southern Pride, and their products have come a long way along their business that spans over three family generations and now ships smokers worldwide.
The new SP-500, weighing in at 1,204 lbs., was delivered Wednesday, December 5th from Alamo, TN. "The delivery went smoothly and will now serve us for the coming decades."
Check out the gallery below to see the transition.