Updated: Jul 12, 2022
Photo by Matt Hulsman
R.O.’s Sauce, Slaw & Dip is sold at Food Lions, Harris Teeters, and Ingles Markets in Gaston, Lincoln, and Cleveland counties, and at R.O.’s Barbecue in Gastonia.
In between running machines at a Gaston County cotton mill and working shifts at Tom’s Barbecue in the 1940s, Pearl Black perfected a recipe that would be enjoyed — and shared — by her family for generations. In her home kitchen, she shredded cabbage with a hand grater and added ketchup, mayonnaise, relish, Texas Pete, and 12 other ingredients — all easy to find post-World War II — for a tangy red slaw.
Eventually, Pearl and her husband, Robert Osy Black, acquired the lease for Tom’s Barbecue on Bessemer City Highway and, in 1946, reopened as R.O.’s Barbecue in a new building on Gaston Avenue. The slaw burger — Pearl’s slaw sandwiched between two large, toasted buns — became the most popular item on the menu for its taste and price (a nickel). “The slaw is what made us famous,” says Pearl’s grandson, Mark Hoffman. “It’s the only reason why we’ve been here for 76 years.”
The recipe, which hasn’t changed, has passed from generation to generation. Pearl taught her daughter, Ruth Black Hoffman, how to make it, and Ruth taught her son, Mark. Decades later, R.O.’s Famous Slaw Sandwich is still a favorite at the storied restaurant.
R.O.’S Barbecue 1318 Gaston Avenue (704) 866-8143 rosbbq.com
As seen in Our State Magazine, July 2022
Welcome Home, Red & Blue
By Vanessa Infanzon
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