Dickey’s Barbecue Pit opened in 1941. Its menu fluctuated for eleven years, bending to the whims of its customers and the flavor forays of its chefs, but since 1952, Dickey’s menu has not changed.
If all goes as planned, Dickey’s will roll out the spicy cheddar sausage system-wide Feb. 1, marking the first alteration to its sausage menu in nearly sixty years.
“No barbecue place I’ve found has this product,” says Roland Dickey Jr., president of Dickey’s. “This is one that’s really going to separate us from the pack from a lot of the regular barbecue places.”
The spicy cheddar sausage, as its name predicates, begins with the chain’s basic Polish-style sausage, infuses it with massive volumes of cheddar cheese, and fires it up with jalapenos, cracked black pepper, and old-world spices.
“When we decided on a spicy cheddar sausage, the first five or six batches were not enough cheese, not enough jalapenos,” says Dickey’s Chef Tyler Riddle. “If we’re really going to do this, we really need to pack as much cheddar and cheese and jalapenos and black pepper as humanly possible, so a customer, from the first bite, is just totally in love with the product.”
“When you slice into that thing, cheese is literally gonna squirt in every direction,” Dickey says. “Is this health food? No, OK, but it’s not about that. This is about having the very best tasting sausage you could possibly get.”
The company examined market trends, vendors, and vendor products back when the spicy cheddar sausage was only a vestige of an idea. But Dickey said a competitive analysis revealed that no major quick-serve chain offers a product akin to the spicy cheddar sausage.
Armed with that knowledge, Dickey says the company decided to go full-force with their product. “We want it to be like something you’d find in the Texas hill country, where the Germanic sausage shops are, where you’d find what I think is the best sausage in America—and take it nationwide.”
At this point, “nationwide” refers to Dickey’s corporate-owned location in MicKinney, Texas, where the product is being tested. Dickey says testing is going unbelievably well.
“I witnessed two different customers come in our store today,” he said on Friday. “They came in and they ordered a plate and ate lunch, and then went back and ordered two more. They each ordered a pound to go! It really is addictive.”
Dickey hopes the overwhelming response will mutate into the type of famous quick-serve product that defines 2011. “There have been a few memorable products over the last few decades and everyone can remember when they were rolled out and what they did for whatever company’s sales,” he says. “Twenty-eight years ago it was McNuggets, eight years ago it was McGriddles, and we think next year it’s gonna be us and it’s gonna be our Spicy Cheddar Sausage and people are going to love it.”
By Sonya Chudgar