His name is not one you are familiar with, however he will forever be known as the man behind 'Chick-fil-A Sauce.' Hugh A Fleming, Junior of Fredericksburg, Virginia passed away last week at the age of 74. I was lucky enough to have worked in Fredericksburg for about 11 years of my broadcasting career and got to know Mr. Fleming as a local business owner and the man with the recipe. Before Chick-fil-A Sauce became a nationwide sensation, we used to get it locally at just the Fredericksburg locations. It was not in little packs, but in a large pump dispenser up on the front counter. Yes, self serve unlimited sauce. Some patrons were even known to duck in the restroom, rinse out their drink cup, and go back to the pump to fill up. For those of us that didn't want to abuse the goodness, you would find stacks of pre-filled mason jars on the counter for purchase. Imagine being able to buy it in bulk!

Known in town as "Mr. Fleming's sauce" or "that special sauce," Hugh Fleming never had an official name for his concoction. In fact, the whole recipe was complete accident. Fleming mixed up the first batch back in his store in 1983 when folks were looking for something to dip their nuggets in besides just ketchup. Fleming and his small staff played around with a honey mustard salad dressing recipe, but it wasn't until an employee accidentally dipped their bbq sauce covered nugget into the dressing, that they found right combination. The sauce grew in such popularity with locals, that if the store ran out, folks would just leave their food on the counter and walk out. At one point, the store was mixing up 18 gallons per day.

Chick-fil-A's corporate offices got wind of the success of the sauce in Fredericksburg and acquired the recipe from Fleming in 2004. How much did Fleming get the company to pay him for the sauce? Nothing. Fleming said that he appreciated the support and help the company had given him and his family for 29 years. But it wasn't until 2008 that the sauce we know now was rolled out. When it was acquired in 2004, Chick-fil-A nationally introduced it as their Honey Roasted BBQ Sauce. They tweaked the recipe slightly and it did not take off. Those who knew the sauce, did not want it. Finally in 2008 is when the original recipe was served up nationwide as 'Chick-fil-A Sauce.' And the rest is history.

Chick-fil-A says the sauce is their most popular condiment and annually has had locations order more than 500 million packs. We salute you Mr. Fleming, thanks for being a part of my life back in Virginia, and thanks for making that great sauce.

Credit: Chick-fil-A Chicken Wire
Credit: Chick-fil-A Chicken Wire


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