Jan Campana's first attempt at making homemade barbecue sauce 24 years ago was a disaster. These days, her Dimples BBQ Sauce is an award winner.
Campana, a stay-at-home mom in north Raleigh, is president of Dimples BBQ Sauce, a sweet, tomato-based sauce which first went on the market in January.
Barbecue sauce has always been a staple for the Campana family, starting from about the time Jan and her husband married 24 years ago. Her brother-in-law was coming over for a meal when the newlyweds realized that they didn't have any sauce on hand. They figured it couldn't be too hard to make so they started throwing ingredients into a pot.
By the time they were done, an eight quart pot was full of something and, as Campana told me, it was "awful."
Campana eventually figured out how to make sauce on her own. And the family would buy bottled sauce too.
"It's almost fair to say we use it daily as a normal part of our lives," she said.
But when Campana's husband started a competitive barbecue team that travels to contests across the south, their interest in sauce - and the need for a really good one - grew. The team, Campana tells me, wasn't doing so well in the competitions. They decided they needed to come up with a sauce with a really distinctive taste to set them apart from the other teams.
They started working on variations for the team and settled on a recipe. Once they heard from enough people that they should sell it, they decided to do it.
Dimples recently was named the second best sauce in the chicken, beef and pork categories by National Barbecue News. (And I tried it on some ribs the other weekend and it was delicious!)
Campana said the business has given her something new to focus on now that her kids - ages 15 and 21 - need less of her time. She calls Dimples her "new baby."
The name Dimples, in fact, is taken from a male trait on both sides of the family. Campana's husband Rich and her two sons all have dimples in the chin. Her own brother and father have one too. And, as she told me, Dimples would make a good name for a pig (which is what North Carolina barbecue is all about).
"It's been extremely fun," she tells me. "Hopefully it will continue on for our kids."