If you Google ‘barbecue in Des Moines,’ you will find there is no shortage of places to get a respectable rack of ribs in this city. In the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, there was one name that stood out among the pack: Big Daddy’s Bar-B-Q. The restaurant had its humble beginnings on the first floor of a two-story house on Forest Avenue in the Drake University neighborhood in 1983. From there they operated briefly out of a strip mall until finally settling in at a small red and white building on East 14th Street across from East High School.

Patrons traveled far and wide to stop in and enjoy a chicken dinner, pulled pork sandwich or Ms. Seymour’s famous baked beans, but it was the distinctive taste of their sweet, smokey barbecue sauces that really made the food sing. Due to customer demand, the family began selling their sauces in local grocery stores in the early 90s.

Big Daddy had a penchant for creating flavorful super-hot sauces with catchy names that he packaged and sold in small jelly jars. He could often be found around town offering unsuspecting barbecue enthusiasts a taste of his latest creation that was so fiery, a dab on the end of a toothpick was all it took.

Big Daddy himself was as well-known for his generosity as his namesake restaurant was for rave-worthy food. He tirelessly raised money for several local charities, the Food Bank of Iowa being one of his favorites. During the holidays, he partnered with Des Moines-area elementary schools to distribute food and clothing to families in need. 

Since Big Daddy’s passing in 2004, his family has continued to carry on his legacy by supporting the mission of the Food Bank of Iowa and manufacturing their sauces. Their sauces are available at Hy-Vee stores throughout the Midwest and at local Fareway, Price Chopper, and Cash Saver stores.  Their labels will be getting a new look this fall.

Stop into your local grocery store or order online here


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