How David Letterman Played A Role In The Rise Of Stubb's BBQ Sauce

Making it big in the food world is tough. Sometimes, it takes some luck and knowing the right people. That's precisely how a sauce from a humble local barbecue restaurant in the Texas panhandle became one of the most recognizable brands on supermarket shelves across the country.

We're talking about Stubb's, which began with Christopher B. Stubblefield (better known as "Stubb"), a Texas native. Stubblefield finessed his barbecue skills and flavors as a military cook into opening a restaurant in his hometown of Lubbock in 1968, known simply as Stubb's Bar-B-Q. The spot became as well known for its big-name country music and blues performances as it was for its mouthwatering barbecue. As a result, Stubblefield eventually began selling his fan-favorite sauce in the 1980s.

Among Stubb's biggest fans and personal friends was country musician Joe Ely. He brought a bottle of the sauce with him when he performed on David Letterman's "Late Night" show, resulting in the host falling in love with the delicious condiment. Stubbs himself ended up cooking for Letterman on the show in the early 1990s. This gave the brand such a boost that it led to a deal to put the sauce on store shelves in 1992. 

The rest, as they say, is barbecue history.

Building an empire from Letterman's publicity

While the company started with just original and spicy varieties, the selection of Stubb's BBQ sauce flavors has dramatically expanded in the three decades since. Current options include Smokey Brown Sugar Bar-B-Q, Smokey Mesquite Bar-B-Q, and even Dr Pepper Bar-B-Q Sauce.

This certainly isn't Letterman's only culinary impact in his many years as a talk show host. He interviewed and hung out with chefs from Guy Fieri to Anthony Bourdain and David Chang. His wide-ranging love of food is also among the reasons Cardi B took David Letterman to a bodega in a 2022 episode of his latest show, "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction." The Bronx native wanted to share her love of the classic New York sandwich known as the chopped cheese; a mixture of ground beef, onions, cheese, and more, served on a sub roll. Letterman appeared to enjoy the meal just as much as she did.

The Stubb's story is a lesson for amateur cooks out there everywhere. Share your creations with your friends because you never know who might end up loving them!