The Mysterious Barbecue Sauce That Gave Frank X. Tolbert ‘Haunting Memories’ For Life

The Texan journalist had a lifelong love for a BBQ sauce he tried in 1937.

By Casey CheekApril 26, 2018 7:03 am, ,

Texan journalist Frank X. Tolbert was famous for his writing on chili and his namesake Tolbert’s chili restaurant in Grapevine. Texas Monthly BBQ editor Daniel Vaughn says Tolbert was passionate about sauce, and he spent his life looking for one in particular – what he called devil sauce.

“He was really the ultimate roadtripper,” Vaughn says. “He would drive around Texas and find all these interesting foods that were out in rural areas that other people had never heard of or come across.”

Tolbert wrote about food for the Ft. Worth Star Telegram and the Dallas Morning News. At an event in Bethel in 1937, he watched pitmaster Will King Solomon make devil sauce.

“It seemed to go well with everything,” Vaughn says. “This was early on in Frank Tolbert’s writing career, but he seemed to chase this flavor of this sauce throughout his entire career.”

Tolbert went back in 1938 for the sauce, but then he never saw Solomon again.

“He talked a lot about the heat, talked about the chili powder, the vinegar,” Vaughn says. “He never did get a recipe straight from Will King Solomon, though.”

In 1971, Tolbert wrote that he still had ‘haunting memories’ of Solomon’s barbecue.

Written by Angela Bonilla.