Grill It Good

A tasty trip to North Carolina for a taste of one of America’s fastest-growing sports: competitive barbecue.

  1. John Childers would look out of place on any conventional sports team. Aged 57, he has a protruding belly, a long, thick, white beard and an even thicker southern accent. He calls women ma’am and his speech is scattered with words like poh-leese, Illinoize and North ‘Arolina. Childers (pictured top) tells jokes that are dirty—“What's a Yankee? The string at the end of a tampon"—and others that are too racist to repeat. His political views would repel a member of the tea party. President Obama is a particularly sensitive subject. "I wouldn't assassinate him,” Childers joked. “But I'd dig the hole.”

    These comments may be offensive, but Childers manages to blunt them with friendliness and a deadpan wit. He both embodies and teases at every stereotype of the American South, but somehow hasn’t become a caricature himself. He fits right in to the irreverent, smoky, boozy circuit of one of the country’s fastest-growing sports: competitive barbecue.

    For the past 15 years Childers has enter...

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