What Happened To Bubba's Q Boneless Ribs After Shark Tank?

Over the course of many seasons, investors have gotten to taste some of the best foods on "Shark Tank," with nearly all of these products being revolutionary in one way or another. Bubba's Q Boneless Ribs, featured on the show in 2013, is no different.

Up until the age of 34, Bubba's Q founder Al "Bubba" Baker played for NFL teams including the Lions, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Cleveland Browns. However, after retiring from the NFL, what was he to do with his life? The answer is, of course, barbecue ribs.

Baker decided to challenge himself by tackling an ancient problem: How can eating ribs be made less messy? Preventing the need to constantly wipe away juicy, dripping barbecue meat while eating ribs is definitely an ambitious battle; but, according to Success, Baker pulled it off, creating a product that could be microwaved in order to quickly and conveniently cook ribs with much less mess. However, Bubba's story of "Shark Tank" success is not, overall, a happy tale.

Bubba scored a deal ... or did he?

Al Baker founded Bubba's Q Boneless Ribs after his wife complained that traditional ribs were too messy. According to the patent, which is still held by the Baker family, the boneless ribs are created by cooking beef or pork and then removing the bones, leaving the meat otherwise intact and canceling the "tedious, embarrassing, and messy nature" of eating ribs.

Although a worthy cause, Baker's boneless ribs weren't an instant financial success. At the time Baker got the chance to appear on "Shark Tank," he was in negotiations with his bank to try to keep the company afloat — even though he had the absolute best ribs selling in nearly 50 Ohio stores. Ultimately, Baker's pitch landed him a $300,000 for 30% equity deal with shark Daymond John; but this investment caused additional problems for the company.

By 2015, the team had worked out an agreement with Rastelli Foods, under which the latter would co-pack the boneless ribs and also sell them on the Rastelli website. Within just two years, Bubba's Q had more than $16 million in sales under its belt.

A Shark Tank nightmare unfolds

Unfortunately, as we mentioned previously, the Bubba's Q Boneless Ribs story does not have a happy ending — at least as of 2023. In May, the company ceased production, stating on its website that "what began as an exciting opportunity on 'Shark Tank' quickly turned into a nightmare." Al Baker's daughter accused Daymond John and Rastelli Foods of excluding them from important business conversations, attempting to take ownership of their patent, and withholding the vast majority of Bubba's Q profits.

The company also launched a Go Fund Me to help fund their legal battle, prompting John and Rastelli Foods to file for temporary restraining orders against the Baker family, as well as an order to cease and desist. According to the L.A. Times, the Bakers claim that the $300,000 for 30% equity deal was later changed to $100,000 for 35% equity without their knowledge; they lost control of the company's bank accounts; and John and Rastelli only gave them about 4% of the profits.

John later posted a TikTok sharing his side of the story, in which he accused the Bakers of spreading "false narratives" and breaking their confidentiality agreement. As the situation currently stands, the truth has yet to come out; but, hopefully, more will be revealed in the coming months. In the meantime, we all have to return to cooking up a country-style ribs recipe the old-fashioned way.