The true story of Comeback Sauce starts in Jackson, Mississippi, way back in the 1920’s.

How Comeback Sauce was invented –

It all started with the price of currants in Greece.

Yes. Really. Here’s how:

In the 1890s, currants were the major export product of Greece. Currants are basically raisins, but from a different variety of grapes than what we’re usually accustomed to here in America. But in 1893, the price of currants in the international markets fell rapidly and precipitously. The result was a severe economic crisis which caused many Greeks to leave their homeland.

And so from 1890-1914, almost a sixth of the population of Greece emigrated, heading largely to the United States. Flooding into Jackson, Mississippi, large numbers of them went to work in the city’s diners and cafes, with many eventually opening their own restaurants.

The Rotisserie – birthplace of Comeback Sauce

The Rotisserie Restaurant in Jackson Mississippi - birthplace of Comeback Sauce!

The Rotisserie, started by Alex Dennery (John Alexander Tounaris) was the first Greek restaurant in Jackson, but by no means was it the only one. Jackson became home to many Greek-owned restaurants, which changed the city’s food scene forever. But Alex wasn’t satisfied for The Rotisserie to be just one of many. He wanted his establishment to stand out from the crowd, to be the best of the best. He wanted all of his guests to “Come Back” again and again.

So he set out to create a sauce that was so delicious and so unique, that people would come back to The Rotisserie over and over. First he asked his kitchen employees to work on it. Each time one of them presented him with a new sauce to taste, although very good, he deemed it to be lacking in that memorable perfection that he was seeking.

Finally one night, after the restaurant closed, Alex stayed in the kitchen and set about creating something delightful himself. Hours later, he was finally satisfied that he had the sauce that would make his restaurant guests come back. His result is what has become the classic southern sauce known as Comeback Sauce. Because, you know, you’ll love it so much you’ll come back for more!

Partially because of Alex Dennery’s Comeback Sauce, The Rotisserie was one of Jackson’s favorite restaurants for generations.

Comeback Sauce spreads!

Up until the late 1970s and early 1980s, the only places one could find Comeback Sauce in Jackson was in Greek-owned restaurants, which all had their own variations on the saucy treat. Over the years, it was increasingly found on the menus of other local non-Greek restaurants, and from there Comeback Sauce spread throughout the state. Now, if a Mississippi restaurant doesn’t have Comeback Sauce, it’s out of step with traditional Mississippi cuisine.

Alex Dennery’s Comeback Sauce has become a signature recipe of Mississippi.

What started as an effort by a Greek immigrant in the capital city to offer his restaurant guests a distinct flavor has become a way to offer a taste of Mississippi to the world. Comeback Sauce has surfaced in the restaurants of James Beard-recognized chefs, supermarket aisles, and gas stations.

What makes Comeback Sauce so special?

Chef and restaurateur Robert St. John described it as the “offspring of the incestuous marriage between thousand island dressing and rémoulade sauce.”

It’s spicy, tangy, orange-hued, and garlicky. It brings vibrant flavor to shrimp, crab cakes, fried tomatoes, fried chicken, French fries, fried onion rings, raw vegetables, and po’ boys… basically anything that could benefit from a little jolt of flavor.

It can even accomplish the feat of making an appetizer out of saltine crackers – dip those crackers straight into a bowl of this sauce! For some in the South, it’s the ultimate hors d’oeuvre.

Very appropriately, chef Martha Hall Foose described Comeback Sauce to The New York Times as “Mississippi’s house dressing”.

Original 1920’s Comeback Sauce recipe

My mother had the original Rotisserie Comeback Sauce recipe, which luckily I found when I cleared out her house. This is the exact recipe that Alex Dennery came up with and served to his restaurant guests over and over for decades and was enjoyed by generations of Mississippians.

I know you want it!

My mother’s recipe card for Come-Back Dressing

Rotisserie Come-Back Dressing:

  • 1 button garlic, grated
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce or ketchup
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 small onion, grated
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 T. water
  • Dash of Tabasco
  • Salt to taste
  • Mix and shake well or stir in blender
  • For best flavor, make it the day before and refrigerate overnight.

Download the printable Rotisserie Comeback Sauce PDF here.

Aren’t you glad the price of currants in Greece fell?