Made in SoWal: Bad Byron's Butt Rub
July 10, 2014 by Manny Chavez
Some folks in the South seem born with thick, red, spicy sauce flowing thickly through their veins. Byron Chism is one of those folks. He grew up in Texas eating and loving barbeque and ended up here in SoWal with sand between his toes. When he arrived in South Walton, little did he know that he would someday be selling his own barbeque seasoning famously known as “Bad Byron's Butt Rub”.
Byron developed the recipe for his rub experimenting with ingredients while working at various local SoWal restaurants in the early 90's. He knew he was on to something when he put out a few samples of his seasoning and they “flew off the shelves". He began pondering an official name for his rub.
“The name was really a no-brainer,” says Byron thinking back. “We were rubbing Boston butts with the seasoning….butt-rubbing, so to speak. I couldn’t imagine calling it anything else and was shocked to find that the name had not been copyrighted or trademarked…well, it is now and has been ever since,” laughs Byron.
Byron’s neighbor, Jim Norton, built him his first barbeque grill and taught him the basics of barbecuing. Soon Byron began competing in Bar-B-Que competitions and was winning frequently (take a tour with Byron of the enormous trophy room). He knew his contest travels would be a great opportunity to promote his Butt Rub seasoning and introducing it directly to people's taste buds was the best form of advertising.
Byron’s first retail sales were at Cocoon’s on Scenic 30A. “Mike LeDow was my mentor and gave me invaluable advice to help me get my product off the ground,” says Byron. He started selling online and to “mom and pop” stores. In 2003, Piggly Wiggly added Bad Byron's Butt Rub to their shelves.
Today, Byron’s Butt Rub is the #2 selling rub in the Southeastern United States. Locally, the product can be found at the major retailers of Winn Dixie, Publix, Walmart, and Kroger. Online sales are brisk and can be found at www.buttrub.com . Other Butt Rub products available online include Jubilee Seafood Seasoning, Unca Duke’s Geaux Juice, Mrs. Lil’s Premium southern Honey, and Butt Rub Café Whole Bean Coffee.
Although Byron retired from Bar-B-Que competition two years ago, he is now busy sponsoring, judging, and mentoring international barbeque teams.
“There are eight American Bar-B-Que competitions being held in Europe this year and I will be at three of them,” says Byron.
The events this year will take place in Holland, France, Australia, and Belgium. He runs an international Bar-B-Que Camp in Tennessee. Named the “Butt Ranch”, it is a place where he keeps his cooking equipment and can host his camp visitors. They learn from Byron and part of the camp experience includes entering a cooking contest where the camp participants can use his equipment as he mentors their efforts.
“These cooks are not rewbies, they are already competing cooks, but lack the experience they need. There are very few Bar-B-Que events in Europe for them to compete in,” continues Byron.
Although Byron has had great success with his current product line, there are two new additions to the line-up that he is very excited about.
“By mid-Summer, we will be introducing Mrs. Lil’s Orange Blossom Honey and Texas Tea (Bar-B-Que sauce). The “Texas Tea” name came about while thinking about the old Beverly Hillbillies episodes where Jed accidentally unplugged oil while hunting varmints. Like the original Butt Rub, Texas Tea is heavily copyrighted and trademarked and Byron is looking forward to the product launch.
Although Byron has been very low-key in his overall business approach, he can’t say enough about his team at the Butt Rub headquarters located on Hwy. 331 North. His team consists of Paul Dodson, Sales Manager; Doreen Worsley, Office Manager; Robert Worsley, Sales and Promotion; Susan Thomason, Operations Manager; Everett Thomason, Warehouse Manager; and Jane McClendon, Office and Packing.
The entire team seems genuinely enthusiastic about their individual roles in making Butt Rub the success that it is. They proudly wear their Butt Rub t-shirts and look forward to the next order….and, as Byron likes to say, “A little Butt Rub makes everything better!”