Hot off the Press

Part I: Feelings

I write this update from the road, having just left Meredith-Webb Printing Company, and we are giddy. There aren't words to describe how we feel seeing this map in its final stages, how what started as just an idea - just a flash while I was reading a book one day, planning a trip - is now an actual tangible object. Everyone at Meredith-Webb came out to see the BBQ map people, Amanda and Paul, and we had a sign welcoming us at the door. These people have all SEEN the map - they were the first to see it - and they are just as excited about it as we are. We stood around and told stories about our favorite BBQ, about one manager's family member picking up sauce in NC to drive down to TX, about which BBQ joint catered which employee's wedding. And we heard how they all stood around looking for their favorite BBQ restaurants when the map came in for proofing. (And they found them all - hooray!) It was a great reminder of the sense of community that's behind barbecue, how it's a unifying force, how it brings people together. Every time this happens - every time we have that realization - it's a bit of a shock. It's a feeling of coming home to something, of something warm and familiar, and yet because of barbecue, it's a feeling that can exist among strangers. Our biggest hope for you all is that you will find a piece of that on your travels with this map, that this map will be more than a way to get you from meal-to-meal, that it will also be a way of falling into this sense of community, this NC barbecue family that exists out there in the ether.

Part II: Facts 

We were welcomed by Matt, who has been our main point of contact at Meredith-Webb, and as things were being finalized for the map, we jumped right into a tour of the facility. He gave us a completely new perspective on the lithographic printing process and an even greater appreciation for what this map will be in the end. Creating this map really has been a team effort every step of the way, with so many hands touching it, adding their part, their expertise, their art form.

Matt took us into the room where the aluminum plates are made for printing, a process that originally started in the late 1700's on limestone plates. Yes, lithography goes way, way back, almost as far back as barbecue! (Please click the hyperlink for a history and description, as I won't begin to do it justice.) Then we moved through every part of the process until we saw our own maps on the press...

Left to right: Meredith-Webb cuts all their paper into sheets from these 300+ pound rolls that come straight from the paper factory. Our map started out on a roll just like this. | Where any custom inks are mixed and tested on a device that simulates the offset lithographic process. | The paper passes through each of these presses, all containing a different color. Our map also got a special coating.

Left to Right: Proofing the map one final time as a test print comes off the press. We've already had paper proofs of the map, but this was the first time we saw the map as an offset lithographic print on our actual paper. The printing-floor team compared this test proof with our proof to match the colors and make any adjustments. After a few small tweaks, I signed off, and they were ready to run! | A test map just off the press, right before the final run was to start. | The job board for the day, with The Great NC BBQ Map right at the top!

Matt just checked in with us about an hour ago, and the maps are on to trimming. Next up: folding. Now that is one machine we'd like to see in action!

We left happy, excited, relieved, and well... hungry! How did we celebrate all this? With barbecue, of course! Good thing we had a BBQ map.

Absolutely delicious barbecue, sides, and smoked jalapeno poppers right down the road at Dickie-Do's!

Until next time, friends,
Amanda + Paul