Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tarheel Tuna 'Que in the Belly of the Beast

Nunnery-Freeman Barbecue
1645 Norlina Rd.
Henderson, NC 27536
(252) 438-4751

Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

Sure, it's an incredible tool -- making an amazing amount of information available to users at the click of a button.

But the internet also allows complete morons another avenue to infect our culture with their opinions -- which is probably why Al Gore invented it in the first place.

Unfortunately, Suit 69 fell into the morons' trap recently on a Saturday night drive through North Carolina.

Several websites said Nunnery-Freeman Barbecue in North Carolina was the place to eat for good barbecue.  I believed them.

I have to admit, when I rolled up to Nunnery-Freeman, I didn't smell any smoke.  But I didn't think anything of it. 

The place was almost empty, and they were about to close in an hour.  So I just figured the smoking was done for the day.

I asked for a menu, but didn't waste any time deciding on my order.

I wanted a sweet tea to drink, a plate of NC-style barbecue, coleslaw, fries and hush puppies -- my standard order when in the Tarheel State.

While waiting, I perused the empty tables.  They had several different sauce choices.

Not a good sign, but it's not all that uncommon to see that nowadays.

When my food came out, I took one look at my plate, and I knew something was wrong.

The meat was too uniformly colored.  It was already heavily sauced.  It had the consistency of oatmeal.

Suit 69 had been had.  What was sitting in front of me was one of the most despicable culinary creations known to man.

Tarheel Tuna 'Cue.

You see, like the internet and microwave, many inventions of the past 50 years are designed to allow people to do things faster and faster.

If a little quality is sacrificed along the way, oh well.

That's the basic idea behind the Kook Rite Kooker.

Designed for use in cafeterias, the Kook Rite Kooker allows people to ditch all that time spent tending low-temperature fires and "smoke" barbecue in what amounts to an electric oven with an insert for hickory wood.

In short, it's barbecue by school lunch lady -- and in Suit 69's opinion, not just lame, but a culinary felony.

After all, what makes barbecue so wonderful is the process -- picking the right wood, the right cuts of meat, just the right amount of seasoning and constantly watching a smoldering fire to make sure it doesn't get too hot and burn the meat or too low and turn out a bitter, over-smoked product.

But the Kook Rite Kooker does away with all that, enabling the bastardization of North Carolina-style barbecue I had sitting on my plate in front of me.

In fact, turns out Nunnery Freeman Manufacturing Corporation in Henderson, North Carolina is the company that makes the Kook Rite Kooker.

I was eating at Nunnery-Freeman Barbecue -- more or less their company restaurant.

Maybe if I had spent a little more time on the internet, I could have found that out beforehand.

But doesn't Kook Rite Kooker barbecue still taste pretty good, you ask?

Aren't you just too much of a barbecue purist to be able to give an objective opinion about the taste?

Maybe it's not authentic, but couldn't someone who's not quite as picky about barbecue kinda like it?

No.  It sucks.  And unless you have the strange habit of eating cat food, you would assuredly agree.

The truth is, it makes North Carolina-style barbecue taste like warm canned tuna with a little sugar mixed in.

Now, as Suit 757 likes to say, eating barbecue is like having sex.  Even when the barbecue isn't top-notch, it's still pretty nice to have, right?

Maybe so.  But eating Tarheel Tuna 'Cue is like having sex with a partially deflated blow up doll with AIDS.

In fact, it might have even been a dude blow up doll. 

Fortunately, the coleslaw, fries and tea satisfied my hunger and helped me make it through the rest of the drive.

But the very sight of Tarheel Tuna 'Cue still haunts me every waking moment.

So, again, don't believe everything you read on the internet -- unless you find it on

RATING:  Clean Kook Rite Kooker With Shirt and Sell on Craigslist


  1. Wow! Thanks for uncovering the truth about truly BAD barbeque. I stand corrected!

  2. So is it called the Kook Rite Kooker because it was invented by Klansmen?