Houston Barbecue History

How a Creole sausage changed Houston barbecue

The year was 1969 and Percy “Frenchy” Creuzot had a problem. He and his wife Sallie, recent transplants from New Orleans, had opened Frenchy’s Po-Boy stand on Scott Street in Third Ward and were running out of sausage.

But not just any sausage. One of the most popular po-boy sandwiches featured a spicy Creole sausage known as chaurice. Creuzot could only source so much from the expatriate Creoles of the area, so he had to get creative.

One thing was for sure: there was plenty of chaurice in New Orleans. But he didn’t have enough money to pay a shipping company to send it by refrigerated truck. So he did the next best thing: he paid friends in New Orleans to buy a Greyhound Bus ticket, pack the sausages in ice, put them in suitcases and travel with them to Houston where he’d pick them up at the bus station and send them back for more.

That moment of entrepreneurial genius allowed Creuzot to build a loyal following at his po-boy stand where he added fried chicken, gumbo, and other Creole and Cajun specialties to the menu. Eventually he spun off the fried chicken menu into one of Houston’s most recognizable food brands: Frenchy’s Chicken.

But he still needed lots of sausage for the po-boy stand. He found a warehouse near the Heights where an Italian-American businessman had started a business making Italian sausage, but the venture closed. Creuzot bought the warehouse and all its sausage-making equipment and started making his own. He established Frenchy’s Sausage Company that’s still located on Pinemont Drive.


Percy “King” Creuzot

Though Creuzot’s son, Percy “King” Creuzot, had helped to establish the business, the elder Creuzot wanted his son to go to college. King graduated from Texas Southern University and went to work for the Ford Motor Company from 1972-1977.

During that time, Frenchy’s business continued to grow and the elder Creuzot needed help. He placed a call to his son, that King remembers vividly to this day.

“I know you love your job,” said Creuzot to his son at the time, “But you will never own Ford Motor Company. I want you to come and work for me in the sausage business.”

“He was right,” says King today, “So I turned in my resignation that day and started working for the family business.” King Creuzot now oversees the Frenchy’s businesses in Houston.

The Creuzots got to work expanding the sausage-making business. They’d occasionally have leftover “link meat,” or meat trimmings used to make sausage. They sold that to the bustling barbecue joints in Third Ward. Visiting places like Lott’s, Murphy’s and Green’s, the Creuzots noticed a specific type of sausage made by the African American pitmasters of the neighborhood known as “homemade links” or “juicy links” that originated in Beaumont.

Over the years, the term “homemade link” became a generic name for this type of sausage, even though it technically wasn’t made on-site at many restaurants.

The Creuzots started making a version of that sausage they called Old Fashioned Barbecue Links and marketed it to smaller barbecue joints around Houston.

Chaurice Sausage made by Frenchy's Sausage

Burns Original BBQ “Homemade Links” 

One of those places was Burns BBQ, opened by Roy Burns Sr. in Acres Homes in 1973. In addition to the Old Fashioned link, the Creuzots took some chaurice sausage with them on a sales call to Burns. When Roy Burns tasted them side-by-side, he decided to serve the spicier chaurice sausage, though he kept the more familiar and traditional “homemade link” moniker.

With Burns leading the way, the chaurice sausage became a standard item on many barbecue menus starting in the 1970s and ’80s, bringing an unmistakable Creole flavor to Houston barbecue.

Burns Original BBQ is the biggest restaurant purveyor of the Frenchy’s chaurice sausage (still called “homemade links” on the menu), selling over 1,200 pounds of the spicy Louisiana creation on a typical Memorial Day weekend.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.
J.C. Reid
Houston Chronicle Barbecue Columnist
J.C. Reid
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