Smokey John's Bar-B-Que Shoebox Lunch

Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que & Home Cooking Honors Black History Month with Historical “Shoebox Lunches”

February 5, 2020

Throughout the month of February, family-owned Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que & Home Cooking will offer customers an educational trip down Black History lane, with the release of its historical “Shoebox Lunches.”

During the Jim Crow era, African Americans were banned and refused service in white-owned dining establishments. This made it hard for them to eat in dignity while traveling far from home. They improvised by cooking and packing their own meals in shoeboxes, since shoeboxes were a convenient size for traveling on buses, trains or planes.

The shoeboxes were neatly tied with yarn, thick thread or thin threads of fabric. “Shoebox lunches” were packed with foods that traveled well such as boiled eggs, a piece of pound cake, pineapple upside-down cake or sweet potato pie, fruit, peanuts, cheese, vegetables, sandwiches, and almost always, fried chicken.

For Black History Month, Smokey John’s will offer its version of the Shoebox Lunch, similar to those depicted in history, as a way to pay homage to the perseverance and ingenuity of the African-American community.

“For us, we just think it’s a neat way to do something for Black History Month to bring some attention to another struggle – something really for the younger generation to be appreciative of,” said Juan Reaves, Co-Owner of Smokey John’s. “For all of us that can walk into Smokey John’s…there was a time where some of our parents or grandparents couldn’t have done that. It’s a neat way to share the history.”

Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que & Home Cooking Shoebox Lunch

Smokey John’s “Shoebox Lunches” will feature:

  • A Sandwich or Fried Chicken*
  • A Side
  • Fruit
  • Pickles
  • Pound Cake or Sweet Potato Pie

*Fried chicken is for catered orders or Mondays only. A minimum of 15 people for catered orders is required. Only one entrée (i.e., sandwich or fried chicken) for every 15 people within a single order.

Photos Credit: J. McClure