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Here’s The Rub

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It’s a drive down the open road on a warm day and pulling into a gravel parking lot. Step out of the car and the smell of smoke lingers in the air. It’s not just any smoke. It’s wood chips on charcoal smoldering in a pit, and the meat sitting over the grates slowly cooking. The flavor isn’t just in the smoke. It’s in the salt, sugar, and spices massaged into the meat before it hits the pit. It’s in the rub. And behind every good rub is a story; the flavors of the region, the particular palette of the maker. Maybe it’s his own creation. Maybe it’s the recipe perfected by his grandfather or great grandfather and passed down for generations. It’s part of the people. It’s part of the place. Usually only locals know these stories. The new busboy hears it on his first day. Waitresses keep recipes as closely guarded secrets. Regulars swap stories about area folklore while sharing a rack of ribs. You aren’t going to find this stuff at Whole Foods. Scour the internet, and it won’t be there. Now the guy grilling in Iowa can connect with those flavors. Now the California family having their Fourth of July cookout can encounter the pit master in rural Alabama. Now New Englanders enjoying a summer day can feel like they’ve met the butcher in Madison known for his unbeatable rub. But, here’s the rub: it’s more than just barbecue, more than grilling, or cooking outdoors. It’s the stories behind the spice blends. It’s the places they come from. It’s the people who make it, perfect it, and continually bring new local flavors to their creations. It’s food with a story. Here’s the Rub. It’s unexpected encounters. It’s uncharted flavors.