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In Reply to: judging ribs posted by snyder625 on April 07, 2013 at 18:29:00:
Interesting comments from Mike Mills in a 2010 article
Four-time champion Mike Mills stands behind comparative judging as the best way to ensure a fair fight; yet, as a pit master who's just about seen it all, he acknowledges a crucial flaw in this system: the power of a dominant trend.
"The trend at this point in time is candy sweet with a finish of spice at the end...It's sickening sweet," Mills declared after he had finished judging. Although the standards of comparative judging and the sanctity of the blind box effectively eliminate all distractions to the moment of judgment, it seems like nothing can change the fact that Memphis in May has become the stage for a particularly sugary type of barbecue.
This bias is clearest in the rib competition, in which most teams crust their racks with brown sugar and spray them with apple juice in the smoking process. While all of the entries still end up extremely tasty, a diversity of flavors is absent among high-ranking entries. The Natural Born Grillers' ribs, which took first place at this year's contest, proved this point: Their texture and appearance were second to none, but every sticky bite sent shock waves of sweetness through my mouth, overpowering the tastes of meat and smoke in a way that I would hesitate to call world-class.
"They don't do that normally," pointed out Mills, who linked this trend to American barbecue's regional nature. "That's what started winning in the contests, so that's what everybody started doing.
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