New in the collection: matchbook from Melton’s

Matchbook with copy promoting barbecue available by mail order and fixed by R.B. "Bob" Melton

“Born and raised on a Nash County farm, Bob Melton [discovered] his true calling at age 50. Bob, who had ‘been cooking’ since he was 12, started selling barbecue in 1922 using cooking pits along the banks of the Tar River in Rocky Mount. Two years later he built his first restaurant, which became the first indoor sit-down BBQ restaurant in North Carolina. He specialized in whole hog with a vinegar-based sauce and sides of slaw and Brunswick stew.

Matchbook with photo portrait of R.B. "Bob" Melton.

“Over the years Melton’s put Rocky Mount on several culinary maps. In 1958 Life magazine called Bob the ‘King of Southern Barbecue.’
— From Robert “Bob” Melton,  Twin County Museum & Hall of Fame

Melton died in 1958, but the restaurant survived until being destroyed by flooding from hurricanes Fran in 1996 and Floyd in 1999.

Though modest in appearance, this matchbook seems to have been from the advertising medium’s golden age — the 1940s and ’50s.

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