I am truly passionate about no more than seven or eight things in this whole, wide world. One, obviously, is Georgia Bulldog football. Another is barbecue.
So it should come as no surprise that I have, on more than one occasion, consumed one while consuming the other. You’d think I would applaud the folks at the University of Georgia for making that easier by putting a barbecue vendor inside Sanford Stadium.
But you’d be wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
In case you haven’t heard, the UGA Athletic Association recently announced some concessions upgrades at Sanford Stadium. Two items have gotten the most attention. One is the addition of a Dunkin’ Donuts stand serving munchkins and coffee. Okay, fine. If you want to buy some overpriced Yankee doughnut-like substance and overrated coffee because you overslept and forgot to stop by Krispy Kreme like 99% of other early Athens tailgaters, so be it. Not my preferred course of action, but you do you.
However, it is the other new food option at which I draw the line. A line which should never be crossed. The state line just west of Carroll County. The University of Georgia is going to offer chopped pork and smoked chicken dished out by the folks from . . . .Dreamland Barbecue. The franchise founded in . . . .Tuscaloosa.
Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Where to begin with the wrongness of this wrong-headed decision executed wrongly. For starters, I have been to both the original Dreamland and Atlanta-area franchises. The original is solid. Seriously, it’s good stuff and if you’re in Tuscaloosa and don’t mind a wait it’s worth your time. But the franchises are, like most ‘que franchise restaurants, not really worth your time. Not when there are other excellent local joints within shouting distance.
The barbecue served in Athens will most assuredly not be slow-smoked on site. It will be trucked in cold and reheated and taste as if it had been trucked in and reheated. I assure you, you won’t be paying trucked in and reheated prices.* Honestly, you might as well stick with a hot dog. Or eat actual barbecue at an actual tailgate down in Tent City the way God and Lewis Grizzard intended.
Second, and I cannot stress this enough, if we’re going to serve reheated, underwhelming ‘que at our own shrine to college football, why aren’t we at least getting it from one of 30 excellent vendors within a 30 mile radius of Athens? Butt Hutt. Holcomb’s. Fresh Air. Fox Brothers. Williamson Brothers. My wife’s brother outside Covington who just bought a new Traeger. Any of these could have delivered a product as good without the added baggage of being Nick Saban-approved picnic fare. This is the President riding around in a Toyota limousine. Delta asking if Pepsi is okay when you request a Coke. The French parliament having Bastille Day lunch catered by McDonald’s. There are optics and matters of pride here, sirs.
As if we weren’t having enough trouble convincing the SEC that Greg McGarity didn’t just go shopping at Saban’s Dry Goods, Football Programs, and Sundries and tell the sales clerk “I’ll take one of whatever they’re wearing/hiring/eating in Tuscaloosa.” Now we’re Processing our stadium food too? Freeze-dried Brunswick stew on a whole grain artisanal cracker, Batman. This aggression will not stand.
So go ahead. Enjoy your $7 fast food Alabama barbecue sandwich. I had at least two dozen Chick-Fil-A nuggets back at the tailgate, and I’m stopping at Old Clinton in Gray on my way home. Until later . . .
*Actually, on second thought, you will. Barbecue is that rare foodstuff for which you pay less for freshly prepared, small batch options than you do for the chain stuff. It’s a stealth tax on people too ignorant to know that Sonny’s isn’t really barbecue.