Photo: Kathleen Purvis
FeaturesStories from The Takeout about food, drink, and how we live.  

The circus had P.T. Barnum. TV marketing schemes had Ron Popeil. And biscuits have Biscuits N’ Porn on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Search all over the South and you may find better biscuits (although maybe not—BN’P biscuits are pretty darn good.) But you’ll never find a more ingenious idea for making serious dough off biscuits.

Advertisement

Located on Croatan Highway right on the border between Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills, a stone’s throw from the Atlantic, Biscuits N’ Porn is a convenience store, technically called the Stop Quik. On a summer Saturday morning, the parking lot is like a three-ring circus. Cars hauling boats jockey for position at the Citgo gas tanks. Sun-tanned regulars roll in to grab breakfast. And tourists erupt from crammed cars, eager to load up on T-shirts, beer koozies, key rings and bumperstickers with the “Biscuits N’ Porn” logo.

Advertisement

We’ll get to the porn part shortly. First, anyone who’s ever been hungry on the highway knows that convenience store cafes are a thing in the South. While some grab-and-go stores get by with a squeaky roller loaded with rotating hot dogs and a broken-down slushy maker, there are plenty of others that get serious about their food. The classification of “gas-tronomy” stretches from a Shell station in Charlotte that lays fair claim to the title of “best fried chicken in town” to a Chevron station in Oxford, Miss., where eating chicken on a stick in the parking lot at 2 a.m. is an Ole Miss rite of passage. Drive across Louisiana and you’ll find no shortage of gas stations serving superb boudin balls and pork cracklin’.

Biscuits N’ Porn takes it to another level. Inside, once you get past those shelves of T-shirts, there’s usually a line wrapping around the store to reach the deli counter. In the morning, you can load your biscuit with eggs, cheese, sausage and even sausage gravy. At lunch, they add fried chicken, green beans, macaroni & cheese, and potato wedges to the spread. There are usually subs, burgers and sandwiches, too.

Advertisement

The biscuits are as big as a man’s palm (we’ll leave you to make your own biscuits-and-porn images with that) and fit into the style of country biscuits, the kind with crispy, butter-brushed tops and fluffy middles that crumble into chunks as you drive down the road, steering with one hand and eating with the other.

Photo: Kathleen Purvis

Advertisement

You can get two kinds of biscuits—plain and cheese—with visible shreds of cheddar baked into the top. The best play is the sandwich known as Around the World: A cheese biscuit filled with sausage, bacon, country ham, fried egg and more cheese. It’s a breakfast made for hangovers, exactly the kind of fuel you need before a day of beach walking and an afternoon of umbrella drinks.

It isn’t like Biscuits N’ Porn is the only place to make money off the salacious. The hashtag #foodporn has blown up all over social media, with psychologists now weighing in on the potential damage to our psyches. Chicago partiers may know the name Porn and Chicken, a DJ dance party that started in 2010, went on to tour around the country and spawned an Adult Swim cartoon from Homeless Cop.

Advertisement

The people at Biscuits N’ Porn cheerfully admit that the whole idea is just a brilliant money grab. Stop Quik, which opened in 1978, was known locally for years as Miss Helen’s, named for the owner’s mother and the original biscuit maker. In the early 2000s, a group of surfers dubbed it “Biscuits and Porn” because, like most convenience stores, there was a rack of adult magazines not far from the deli. (It’s still there, allegedly, although we never spotted it.)

The name stuck, and soon became more than a nickname. There’s now a big sign in the window, right next to the Stop Quik sign, with the kind of cavorting-lady silhouettes you see on trucker flaps.

Advertisement

And since biscuits sell for $1.75 to $3.64 while T-shirts go for $20 to $25, well, you do the math. As a business model, Biscuits N’ Porn is so brilliant, it would make even an MBA blush.