Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What's in a Name?

Every once in a while when we're at a contest someone will ask us what's up with that line "& the Sue Dog Smokin' Crew" near the bottom of our competition team banner.

Does our team really include a legion of culinary trained canines all named Sue?

Sue is my dog. When I entered my first BBQ contest, I couldn't think of a name for my team. So I named the team after my dog. I think the first name I used was Smokin' Sue's BBQ. We cooked in 6 contests that first summer. I used some combination or variance of the words Smoke and Sue in almost all of them. In addition to Smokin' Sue's, there was Sue Dog's BBQ and then Sue Dog's Smokin' Crew. I could never quite settle on a name that I thought fit just right.

Toward the end of our first year, I entered a contest in West Point, Nebraska - just a few miles from my hometown in Dodge County, Nebraska. My Dad knew a local beef producer, who also held a seat on the Dodge County Cattleman's Board, and a sponsorship for that contest in West Point sounded like a good possibility. So I entered as the Dodge County Smokers BBQ team.

Well, the sponsorship fell through, but not before another friend of Dad's made me a banner that said "Dodge County Smokers and the Sue Dog Smokin' Crew." Now I had already entered another contest happening after this one, so I asked the guy to include that Sue Dog line on the banner when I learned he was making it. That way I could use it at both contests. It was kind of an ugly banner. It was yellow and had blue and red letters. But it was free and I was happy to have it. By the way, I think it was free because the guy was using up banner materials that no one else would pay for.

Now that we had a banner (no matter how ugly), I didn't want to pay for another - and the Dodge County name was starting to grow on me anyway...plus the name kind of paid tribute to where I grew up and also the smoker that my Dad had just built around that time. So the name stuck...and so did that Sue Dog line.

When we designed our current logo, we kept Sue in there and we finally retired that ugly yellow banner last year. Sue still comes to the occasional contest, but more often you'll find a little Sue Dog look-a-like hanging in our tent at a contest. BBQers are full of superstitious little quirks...I guess that's one of ours.

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