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Food carts of Bloomington: Great White Smoke founder started business as a fundraiser for son born with Down syndrome

June 19, 2014

Bloomington resident Dave White started hosting pulled pork cookouts as a fundraiser for his newborn son, selling wristbands and barbecue at the west side Kroger on weekends in between a full-time job.

A “wooden cabin on wheels” and two large smokers later, White now sells pulled pork and more on a food truck called the “Great White Smoke,” which has an established clientele and is attracting new fans every day.



White’s barbecue is made using a unique recipe, with vinegar-based pulled pork seasoned with garlic powder instead of salt. Sandwiches boast a variety of toppings -- cole slaw for the “Creamy Carolina,” pepper jack cheese and jalapenos for the “Motley Q” and Swiss cheese for the “Bar-B Cuban.”

Enter to win

Current IU employees using a current, valid IU email address can enter to win a signature sandwich meal deal, which comes with a sandwich, side and drink, or a signature bowl meal deal, which includes a barbecue bowl and a drink, (a $10 value) from the Great White Smoke.

Jessica, Graison and Dave

Great White Smoke founders Jessica Baker and Dave White with their son, Graison. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVE WHITE

It all began, White said, when his fiancée, Jessica Baker, quit her job of 12 years to take care of the couple's newborn son, Graison, born with Down syndrome and a ventricular septal defect, or a hole in his heart.

With medical expenses and a need for full-time care, the couple started the business as a way to make ends meet. Before long, Kroger customers started calling the grocery store to ask when the “barbecue family” would be there. They’d built a fan base without even realizing it, and White, a parking meter enforcer with the city of Bloomington's Department of Public Works, decided it was time to expand.

“I started to see that we had a real opportunity to take a run at it as a business,” White said.

The couple never imagined their business would grow to a point of being invited to the recent NCAA Baseball Regionals at IU's Bart Kaufman field, where they served thousands of fans over one weekend. They also have a deal to sell barbecue at IU football games this fall.

Beyond serving the best pulled pork in town, Baker said she hopes the couple's work with their food truck helps increase awareness of Down syndrome.

“I think part of why people love the business, apart from the barbecue, is our story,” Baker said.

White and Baker also said they would like to expand to a storefront restaurant some day so they can serve their barbecue year-round.

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