How a Valley native kicked off one of America’s most popular BBQ sauces

Local News

(WKBN) – What BBQ sauce did you choose for Memorial Day grilling? One of the most famous BBQ sauces in America comes from a kid raised in Braceville.

Guy Hughes worked for General Motors until losing his job in one of the downsizings, but he never stopped cooking and came up with an idea that’s been unstoppable.

Hughes caught Mike Audi’s attention when he set up at the Italian Fest once.

“He’s got BBQ chicken and ribs and something’s just telling me if there’s that long of a line at the Italian Festival, this has got to be some good stuff,” Audi said.

He asked Hughes if he’d be interested in having his sauce made at Summer Garden Manufacturing in Boardman.

Hughes says it was a match made in sauce.  He’s been cooking at Rib Fests and Burnoffs for years and remembers the last one at the Eastwood Mall.

“On the best sauce, I said I’m going to enter my sugar-free sauce. Nobody knew that and I won first place,” Hughes said.

It was the Smoky Garlic flavor and Hughes knew he had a hit. He felt people were ready for a sugar-free sauce that helps people eat healthier but doesn’t taste like it.

“When I first brought the idea to the table, they wanted me to do no sugar added. I said no, it has to be sugar-free. We went round and round. Finally, they said OK, if this is what you want,” said Hughes.

Now, the G. Hughes Sugar Free sauces go into 140,000 bottles a day.

Sales have doubled for six straight years. It’s a $50 million brand and the #4 BBQ sauce in America.

“It just keeps going up and I don’t know when it’s going to stop and I don’t want it to stop,” Hughes said.

The G. Hughes Sugar Free brand also includes marinade, wing sauce and ketchup. It all started with his idea to help people eat healthier.

“He is the pit master. He is the guy. That’s his idea. He developed the product. It’s a true story. It resonates with people,” said Audi.

One person sees the bottle in stores, looks at Guy’s face and smiles. That would be his college roommate, former WKBN weatherman Rich Morgan.  

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