Bil Lepp: Where's the Tudors? A beguiling biscuit blunder (Opinion)

The second most important food group in West Virginia, after the pepperoni roll, is, obviously, the entire menu at Tudor’s Biscuit World, but especially the Mary B.

The Charleston airport (CRW) is advertising itself as “The Gateway to the World.” How is it that Tudor’s Biscuit World has vanished from The Gateway to the World?

When did this happen? How could this happen? This is simply unacceptable.

The only thing that mitigates the misery of getting up at 4 a.m. and going to the airport is a Mary B. My mother packed me a lunch every day for school. She would have been ashamed of herself had she sent me out into the world without substantial sustenance, and thus ill prepared to face the world. CRW is my mother airport. How can she let me leave Charleston sans Mary B?

I don’t know if it’s Tudor’s fault or the airport’s fault, but somebody needs to do something about this. Even in this partisan climate, surely we can all agree that there needs to be a Tudor’s Biscuit World in the Gateway to the World.

I don’t want to overstate this, but the airport without a Tudor’s is like the Capitol without the dome, the New River Gorge without the bridge, Point Pleasant without Mothman, Green Bank without the moveable telescope, a WVU football season that doesn’t end in disappointment (I know this is our year!), a governor’s mansion with no governor, a legislative session with no lobbyists, a... well, you get my point.

The Mary B, according to lore, is named for a woman who came into the original Tudor’s every morning and ordered a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. The owner named that ingenius assemblage of ingredients after Mary B. The simplicity is delicious. Folks in West Virginia don’t need fancy names like Grande or Impossible Whopper. Calling it the Mary B is like a recommendation.

“Mary B likes it?”


“Well, she’s a nice lady. I’ll take one.”

The Ron is named for a guy named Ron. That’s sweet. It honors the locals. It lets people have pride in their hometown businesses. It shows loyalty to customers. It makes me happy. I want to be part of that legacy.

The other morning at CRW I had something wrapped in tinfoil on which was written, with marker, “English muffin, bacon, cheese.” It was soggy, sorta cold, and I’m not positive the bacon was done. My wife had, “sausage, egg, cheese, English muffin.” There were no warm biscuits and no warm names.

We don’t need complicated names, but a little flair, a little down-home character, goes a long way. As does a bright yellow wrapper with a Mary B sticker.

I did some research after I began writing this to discover who is behind this beguiling biscuit blunder. According to an article by Rick Steelhammer, Tudor’s has been replaced by a company from New Jersey. New Jersey!

I guess those folks from New Jersey just don’t know anybody here yet. Since they don’t know anybody to name a sandwich after, we get wholly uninspiring, unfriendly names like “English muffin, bacon, cheese.” Or is it that nobody has ever ordered the same thing twice at this new restaurant and thus no more clever name has arisen?

Yeager Airport Director Terry Sayre said, essentially, that they are bringing in a new restaurant to entice folks from town to drive up and dine at the airport even if they aren’t flying. He suggests, more or less, folks won’t come eat at a restaurant in the airport if they can get the same food in town. Also the New Jersey company is going to spend $300,000 renovating the airport.

I hope they spend that $300K wisely because people aren’t going to come up the hill solely for something called “English muffin, bacon, cheese.”

I don’t know what became of the Mary B biscuit’s namesake, but I know if a biscuit bore my name I’d want it available at the Gateway to the World. A gateway goes two ways. People go out and people come in. I love West Virginia. There are some cities that I know, and judge, strictly by their airports. Visitors coming into West Virginia ought to get real West Virginia fare the second they get off the plane, and visitors leaving CRW ought to have the chance to leave with a good taste in their mouth.

Not “English muffin, bacon, cheese.”

Bil Lepp, of South Charleston, is

a professional storyteller and a

Gazette-Mail contributing columnist.

Funerals for Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Dotson, Jeffery - 7 p.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Kees, Nancy - 11 a.m., Salem Road Freewill Baptist Church, Oak Hill.

Payne, Arless - 5 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Taylor, Connie - 11 a.m., Memory Gardens, Low Gap.

Taylor, Joseph - 11 a.m., Gauley Bridge Baptist Church.

Williams, Nellie - 1 p.m., Pineview Cemetery, Orgas.

Yates, Ruth - 11:30 a.m., Sunset Memorial Park Mausoleum, South Charleston.