A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 10, 2008
Comeback Sauce (Come Back Sauce; Cumback Sauce; Kumback Sauce; Kumbak Sauce)

Comeback sauce (also spelled as “come back sauce,” “cumback sauce,” “kumback auce,” and “kumbak sauce") is sauce that supposedly so good, you’ll “come back” for more. Comeback sauce is a specialty of Jackson, Mississippi, where it was supposedly invented at the Mayflower Cafe (opened in 1935) or the Greek-owned restaurants by the Dennery family in the 1940s. Jackson diners use comeback sauce on salads, french fries, fried pickles, onion rings, and just about everything else.

Comeback sauce is a combination of Thousand Island dressing and remoulade. The sauce usually contains ketchup, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, black pepper, and other ingredients.

“Come back sauce” is first cited in a Kansas City, Missouri newspaper from 1906, where African-Americans used it on barbecued meats. A 1936 ad in a San Antonio, Texas newspaper encouraged customers to take out barbecue with comeback sauce for weekend trips. An Austin, Texas restaurant since 1926—Dirty Martin’s—was also called “Dirty Martin’s Kum-Bak,” but it is not clear if the name has anything to do with the famous sauce.


Jackpedia (Jackson, MS)
Mayflower Cafe
The Mayflower Café once again is Jackson’s favorite seafood spot. If you can get to the Mayflower when soft shell crab is on the menu, you will be doing yourself a favor. The redfish and scallops are also favorites, and I personally think The Mayflower’s “comeback sauce” is the best around. In business since 1935, The Mayflower not only caters to the politicos, but also to those who support the arts. The restaurant’s convenient location near Thalia Mara makes it a popular spot for pre-show dinner. - Andi Agnew (Best of Jackson 2007)
Location
123 W. Capitol St. 601-355-4122

Group Recipes
Kumback Sauce Recipe
After World War II the Dennery family and other Greek immigrants opened some of the best restaurants in the Jackson, Mississippi area. Mr. Dennery developed this sauce as a salad dressing and its popularity exploded. He guarded the secret recipe, but other competing Greek restaurateurs developed their own versions. Today several companies bottle the product, but this is close to the original version.

Ingredients
1 tbs water
2/3 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 dash louisiana hot sauce
1 tsp black pepper
1 small onion
1 cup mayonnasise
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp dry mustard
1 dash paprika
1 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic

Directions
Assemble all ingredients. Juice lemon and discard rind. Process in blender or food processer until smooth. Store in refrigerator. Best made a day ahead. Originated as a salad dressing, but is a great sandwich spread or over grilled veggies.

Uncle Phaedrus, Finder of Lost Recipes
Hi, Phaed:
Saw the post from the 16th on Comeback Sauce.

Attached is the recipe from the Elite Restaurant on Capitol Street, and if anyone is familiar with Jackson, Miss., they’ll recognize the name.

My daughter and I lived in Rankin County from 1990-1997, and I worked in the federal building in downtown Jackson. My co-workers and I went to the Elite at least three times a week. Always good food.

I believe I got this recipe from the Memphis Commercial Appeal a couple of years ago.

Hope you are well and take care.

Your friend in Arkansas,
diana

The Elite’s Comeback Sauce
2 large garlic cloves
1 large or 2 medium onions, grated
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup mustard
1/2 cup salad oil
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. black pepper
Dash of paprika
2 tbsp. water

Place garlic and onion in blender and blend until mixed. Add other ingredients and blend well. Refrigerate.

WAFB9 (Baton Rouge, LA)
INGREDIENTS for Mississippi Comeback Sauce
2 tbs chopped garlic
2 cups mayo
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 ketchup
1 cup olive oil
2 tbs pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire
half of one onion

PROCEDURE: For sauce, take all ingredients and place in food processor until smooth. Place tomatoes on plate. Top with boiled shrimp, and drizzle with sauce. 

31 July 1906, Kansas City (MO) Star, “A Poster’s Description of a Negro Picnic Grave,” pg. 10:
This further announcement is made: “The Rev. J. W. Hurse will cook the barbecue meats with his ‘come back sauce’ on the side.”

13 July 1920, Kansas City (MO) Times, “Hyde to Address Negroes,” pg. 7:
Among the other attractions, John W. Chouteau, chairman of the committee on arrangements, calls special attention on a printed poster to the service of “barbecued meats and come-back sauce.”

23 April 1927, Decatur (IL) Evening Herald, pg. 3, col. 7 ad:
White Cottage Bar-B-Q, 2800 N. Walter St. We serve that come back sauce.

2 July 1928, Oil City (PA) Derrick, pg. 7, col. 5 ad:
We’ll have plenty of barbecue Ham, Pork and Chicken with sweet relish and come back sauce.

5 April 1931, Daily Capital News and Post-Tribune (Jefferson City, MO), pg. 4A, col. 2 ad:
BARBECUE
EVERY DAY
Lamb Chicken Ribs
With our Comeback Sauce
CATON’S PLACE

30 June 1932, Moberly (MO) Monitor-Index, pg. 11, col. 8 ad:
Oh that Delicious Barbecue with the comeback sauce prepared by Ralph Bass.

13 August 1934, Wisconsin Rapids (WI) Daily Tribune, pg. 7, col. 7 ad:
A REAL TREAT
BEGINNING TUESDAY NIGHT
PORK OR BEEF BARBECUE
With the
COME BACK SAUCE 10c
At The
Grand Avenue Tavern

4 July 1936, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 6B, col. 2 ad:
On Your Week End
TRIPS!
Be Sure to Take Along
Some of Charlie’s Famous
BARBECUE
“With Come Back Sauce”
NO BONE—NO FAT
Charlie’s Garden
1230 Broadway

27 April 1937, Hammond (IN) Times, pg. 1, col. 1:
Pickles, green onions and mustard; hot barbecue beef with “come back” sauce; and hot barbecue corn beef with baked beans, not to forget German potato salad, Mexican style cold slaw, coffee, bread and gobs of butter.

12 July 1947, Joplin (MO) Globe, pg. 6, col. 7 ad:
“2” JOHNS BAR
118 WEST FOURTH STREET—JOPLIN
ANNOUNCMENT
We Are Now Serving Daily
Real Southern Hickory-Smoked
BARBECUE
RIBS - BEEF - PORK- BOLOGNA
With That Famous “Haley’s Kumback sauce”

6 December 1985, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, section 1A, pg. 16:
BBQ BABY BACK RIBS
w/Erv’s famous comeback Sauce
(The Sports Page sports bar and grill—ed.)

17 June 1988, Chillicothe (MO) Constitution-Tribune, pg. 2, cols. 2-3:
Why it was just the other day that published Chuck Haney was talking about the late Carl Shirley and Shirley’s famous Come-Back Sauce. Mr. Shirley used to run a sandwich walk-up diner on Clay street, off the alley back of what known as the old Ritz Theater building. (...) Shirley’s top-seller was a tenderloin sandwich with the meat hanging out the sides of the bun and loaded with his Come-Back Sauce, which was what he’d named it. That was his formula for repeat business. Lots of meat and lots of Come-Back Sauce. Customers, Chuck well remembers, did indeed “come back.”

16 July 1993, Washington (DC) Post, “The Dixie Chic Inn” restaurant review by Eve Zibart, pg. N10:
On the other hand, the corn-fried catfish fingers and the pecan-baked catfish are fine, although they’re almost certainly farm cat rather than river and the “comeback sauce” (a sort of remoulade so called, if memory serves, because it’s supposed to make sure ya’ll come back) is kind of reticent. The country ham biscuits are close, but still on the roll call; the bowl of red beans will get you goin’. 

2 November 1997, Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA), “The Harlem Club was Spokane’s Hip Hangout, taking its cue from the famed Cotton Club in New York” by Jim Kershner, pg. E1:
STRAIGHT FROM HARLEM CLUB’S KITCHEN
Here are two recipes courtesy of Doris Mae Aaron:
E.J. Brown’s Comeback Sauce for Ribs
2 8-oz. cans of tomato sauce
5 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup molasses
2 diced onions
1/4 cup apple vinegar
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp salt
2 cups red wine
Hot peppers or hot sauce to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan, cook slowly for approximately 45 minutes, or until sauce is thick.

13 March 1999, Toronto Star, “This part of Atlanta’s missed Olympic legacy,” pg. 1:
At Aleck’s, where Dr. King himself would eat pulled pork drenched in Comeback Sauce, the joint was jumping every night. Alexander, whose family has run this business for nearly 50 years, loved every minute of it. But the tap shut off before the Games, gushed during the Games, and now it’s as dry as a church social. 

4 April 1999, Florida Times-Union, “Fame came from a backyard factory and grandma’s recipe” by Jessie-Lynne Kerr, pg. A2:
A Jacksonville man who took one of his grandmother’s recipes, added a little of his own imagination and built a dozen businesses died on April 3, 1968.

Patrick Michael Prosser, whose sauce was the source of his renown, made and bottled “Patrick’s Kumback Sauce” used by a number of local restaurants.

Prosser came to Jacksonville from Atlanta in 1929 and opened a drug store across from Lee High School. At one time he owned and operated the Big Five Restaurant on Main Street.

Prosser also owned 10 other restaurants and two motels, including Patrick’s Motel on Atlantic Boulevard.

After leaving the restaurant business, he began to mass produce the special barbecue sauce he had perfected as a restaurateur from his grandmother’s recipe and distributed it wholesale to many local restaurants.

At one time, he and his wife, Evelyn, were turning out the barbecue sauce at a rate of 400 to 500 gallons a day.

The first mass-produced sauce was made in a special “backyard” factory, and Mrs. Prosser would help when she got home from work in the evenings.

The Prossers sold the sauce business in 1964. 

Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, MS)
August 1, 2001
It’s not gravy but you will ‘comeback’ for more of it
By Robert St. John
Clarion-Ledger Staff Writer
(...)
Sometimes spelled kumback or cumback.

Comeback sauce is the offspring of the incestuous marriage between 1,000 Island dressing and remoulade sauce. It is the Queen Mother of all Mississippi condiments. The versatility of comeback sauce is legendary. It is universally used as a salad dressing, a dip for fries, a condiment to be served with onion rings or fried mushrooms, a dip for crudités, and in the words of the old Saturday Night Live skit ... “a floor wax and a dessert topping.”

Cooking is chemistry, but sauce making is a science. Jackson’s Greek restaurateurs have perfected this science. Mr. Mike at the Mayflower is the oldest surviving original practitioner in the science of Comebackology. The Mayflower’s sauce has a touch of celery, or celery seed that others do not have. It’s perfect for their onion rings and iceberg salad.

Comebackologist and resident restaurant historian, Malcolm White says that The Rotisserie was the originator of comeback sauce. Mr. Mike told him so. The Rotisserie was owned by Alex Dennery and located at Five Points near the old Jackson Mall. It was Jackson’s first Greek restaurant. They just called it house dressing. John Dennery is still serving it at his restaurant Dennery’s.

From The Rotisserie, comeback sauce spread to all the other Greek restaurants and beyond. Creshale’s, the Cherokee, Walker’s Drive In, Hal & Mal’s and C.S.’s all have their version.

Creshale’s comeback is smooth, unassuming and made 10 times better if you are sitting at Willie Morris’ favorite table, listening to their jukebox. Creshale’s has good comeback sauce, but they have an even better jukebox. It is, hands down, the best jukebox in the state of Mississippi. And it’s free.

Malcolm serves my favorite Jackson-style comeback sauce at Hal and Mal’s. He gets heavy handed with the garlic. I like it that way.

In Hattiesburg, Jimmy Faughn’s restaurant served a light colored version as their house dressing. At the Purple Parrot Café, we serve comeback sauce with a boiled shrimp salad, and in the Crescent City Grill we serve it as a salad dressing and an accompaniment for our onion rings.

My friend, John Currence, owner of City Grocery and Ajax Diner on the square in Oxford, started serving comeback sauce when he opened Kalo’s restaurant in the early 1990s. He developed his version to go with Kalo’s fried dill pickles. There is not another sauce in existence that goes better with fried dill pickles.
(...)
Crescent City Grill Comeback Sauce
2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup ketchup
1 cup chili sauce
1 cup cottonseed oil
1 large onion, diced
1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
4 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons worcestershire
1 tablespoon pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Allow to sit overnight in refrigerator before use.

18 December 2002, Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), “Comeback sauce adds a certain zing to plain ol’ saltines” by Charlotte Durham, pg. E5:
We ate a lot of peanut butter on crackers when I was in college, but I had never heard of a restaurant serving a sauce with saltines until Mandy K. Styles asked about the sauce used on saltines at Elite Restaurant in downtown Jackson, Miss.

Nell Smith of Germantown sent this recipe and some history: “I lived in Jackson over 20 years and was told it originated at the Mayflower Cafe. Every year when classes started in the fall, the college students flocked to the Mayflower to eat the sauce on crackers.” Since they always came back, the sauce got the name “Comeback Sauce” or “Kumback Sauce,” she said. Smith added it makes a great chip or vegetable dip or a salad dressing.
(...)
COMEBACK SAUCE
2 large garlic cloves
1 large or 2 medium onions, grated
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup mustard
1/2 cup salad oil
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. black pepper
Dash of paprika
2 tbsp. water

Place garlic and onion in blender and blend until mixed. Add other ingredients and blend well. Refrigerate. 

Chowhound
My Mama grew up in the Natchez area and has a kumback sauce recipe that I will not share. Her tartar sauce recipe is an even more closely held secret. I will divulge that the sauces are always made the day before the feast so flavors can mingle in a Mason or Ball jar in the fridge.

Kumback is similar to Thousand Island, but I don’t know anyone who uses bottled dressing to start. Most Mississippians will not use celery. Many recipes call for much ground pepper, Mama’s does.

I put ("comeback sauce” OR “cumback sauce” OR “kumback sauce” recipe) into google and got plenty of hits. This one from Baton Rouge for Fried Green Tomatoes topped with boiled shrimp and Mississippi Comeback Sauce sounds really really good.
AreBe May 27, 2007 07:06AM

(Trademark)
Word Mark “ONLY POTATO BASED RECIPE” EQUAL’S COMEBACK BAR-B-Q SAUCE
Goods and Services (ABANDONED) IC 030. US 046. G & S: barbecue sauce
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 05.11.01 - Beets; Carrots; Parsnips; Potatoes
26.17.13 - Letters or words underlined and/or overlined by one or more strokes or lines; Overlined words or letters; Underlined words or letters
Serial Number 74350435
Filing Date January 21, 1993
Current Filing Basis 1B
Original Filing Basis 1B
Owner (APPLICANT) SMITH, EQUAL LEE INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES 3579 East 105 Street Cleveland OHIO 44105
Disclaimer NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE “ONLY POTATO BASED RECIPE” and “BAR-B-QUE SAUCE” APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Abandonment Date May 3, 1994

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, January 10, 2008 • Permalink