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Wouldn't it be cool to be the "Coolest in NC?"
Locally owned and operated George's BBQ Sauce is hoping to be named the coolest thing in North Carolina as part of a contest hosted by the N.C. Chamber of Commerce. (Contributed photo)

George's BBQ Sauce is hoping to be named the coolest thing made in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Chamber of Commerce is hosting a "Coolest Thing Made in NC" contest to shine the spotlight on the manufacturing industry.

George's BBQ Sauce, which is based in Nashville, was recently named a finalist for the competition. Voting will go through September 18 and then, the final four will be announced and voting will again be underway to determine the final winner, which will be announced in October.

"We can't believe we are actually in it," said Brian Hassell, who co-owns the business with his wife, Ashley. "There were over 70 companies in it, huge companies."

"Somehow, we made it to the final 15," Hassell added. "We'll see how far we can go."

People can vote for their favorite finalist online. Hassell said he's heard from a lot of loyal George's customers and how they've voted for the company. He's hoping those same loyal customers will help George's be named in the top four and ultimately, the winner of the contest.

"I think people look at George's and they feel like they know us because we've been in their kitchen 40 years," Hassell said.

George's BBQ Sauce was created in 1975 in Edgecombe County by brothers Ed and George Stallings.

"He did it right there in his house for friends and family and the fire department," Hassell said.

Hassell said Ashley's dad, Tim Chappell, would go visit the Stallings and often eat with them because of his love for the sauce. As the brothers aged, they began looking to sell the business and convinced Chappell to buy it in 1992. Chappell and his wife, Beth, bought the business until a few years ago when the Hassell's took over.

One of the most unique things about George's BBQ Sauce is the fact it's made entirely by hand with only seven employees. Those employees include the Hassells.

"We make every batch by hand," Hassell said. "We put the labels on by hand, twist caps on by hand. We do everything by hand."

"We're super proud of that," he added.

Hassell said being named the winner in the "Coolest Thing in North Carolina" competition would be an exciting thing, but not only for the trophy and designation. Hassell said there's a lot of other things it would mean for such a small company like George's, including the marketing it would bring.

"For a company our size, that's huge," he said. "We're just really trying to get the community behind us."

You can vote daily in the contest by visiting https://coolestthingmadeinnc.com/vote-now.

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