In the early 1940’s Jack Cobb worked at A. C. Monk Tobacco Factory in Farmville, N. C. and had a little barbecue business on the side. He would cook all night and sell his barbecue to his fellow workers for lunch (65 cents per plate). The word spread around the community about Jack’s good ‘cue and white citizens wanted to buy Jack’s barbecue but would not come to Jack’s place to get it. Ever the entrepreneur Jack took his ‘cue to a white friend’s home and this man sold Jack’s barbecue for him.
Rudy Cobb, Jack’s son, shared that as a boy his dad would load his dad’s car with BBQ plates and park it for Rudy to use as a distribution point and Rudy sold his dad’s ‘cue door to door. When Rudy was old enough to drive, Rudy would drive about the town selling his dad’s great pork products. Rudy has many stories about his boyhood and how he and his dad worked together to establish a BBQ place in Farmville. Rudy related that in the 60’s when a number of black people were protesting in many cities and towns he and his dad caught some heat from a few of the local black folks for selling BBQ to whites. Rudy (who is a Viet Nam combat vet) said he did not lose any sleep over it and eventually things calmed down. Fortunately those stressful times have long passed and Cobb’s BBQ Place enjoys the esteem and patronage of all of the Farmville community.
Forty (40) plus years ago Rudy graduated from A & T University. His dad asked him to help at the barbecue place for the summer while he looked for a job. Rudy never left. Rudy worked with his Dad until his dad’s death in September 1989. Rudy says the barbecue business kinda gets in your blood. Now 66 years young, Rudy is one of the senior celebrated pit masters in eastern North Carolina. And he still cooks his pigs the old fashioned way on a cinderblock pit fueled with live charcoal and wood coals.
Cobb’s chopped barbecue is a medium chop, very tender, with a rich, nutty, brown, smokey taste. It comes moderately sauced from the kitchen with a tangy true Eastern North Carolina sauce. This is a very clean ‘cue, no trash, i.e. gristle, bone, fat or too much skin etc. The ‘cue’s pronounced smoky taste comes from 16 hours on the pit. Rudy cooks Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The pigs go on the pit at 1:00 in the afternoon and come off at 5:00 AM the next morning.
The sauce is an amber colored vinegar based condiment with hints of red peppers peeking out to let you know there is some heat here. It has enough fire to be interesting and makes your taste buds tingle, but it is not excessively hot. It is kinda like the Little Bear’s porridge, not to mild, not to hot – JUST RIGHT!
To this writer's taste one needs just a touch more sauce than is served on the cue from the kitchen. Be careful in adding additional sauce, if any, it does not need much.
Cobb’s slaw is fresh chopped cabbage with a bit of carrot, vinegar and a smidge of mustard to make it pop. The slaw dances nicely with the ‘cue.
The hushpuppies are golden brown perfection with a pleasing corn meal taste inside and a light outer shell. These pups are not greasy and have no grease rings.
In addition to barbecue pork, Cobb’s serves barbecue chicken (whole or half) and barbecue turkey. Cobb’s also serves an array of really good country side dishes and deserts.
Cobb’s is only open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. I suggest you call ahead to be sure Cobb’s is open. There is no inside seating. Cobb’s provides outside seating in a screened area with tables and chairs. Many of Cobb’s customers sit under the trees in the shade and picnic. Enjoy!
Pit review by Jim Early. Reprint with permission of The Best Tar Heel Barbecue Manteo to Murphy, Inc.