If you’re not a Buckeye football fan, you might want to be one now. The Ohio State University’s “best fans in the land” can enjoy tasty, crunchy bacon at home games this season, thanks to the Ohio Pork Council’s (OPC) decision to place a bacon vending machine at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
Sales were brisk during the Buckeye’s first game of the season this past Saturday, says Dave Shoup, OPC president and hog producer, based near Smithville, Ohio.
“We didn’t sell out, but there were sure a lot of empty lanes in the machine by about 2:30 p.m. that afternoon,” he says.
The stand-alone vending machine offers shelf-stable, ready-to-eat bacon in strips (12 per container) and as bits for $6 per package. When game attendees make their purchase, they can also use the machine’s touch-screen interface to learn educational facts about Ohio’s pig farming community. That educational opportunity is what fueled the OPC’s decision to place the machine at the stadium, which fans often call the Horseshoe.
“They can watch a video and learn more about what goes on with the Ohio swine industry and how we take care of our pigs,” Shoup notes.
Graphic elements on the side of the machine also reference the National Pork Producers Council We Care initiative.
“There’s a chasm between pork producers and consumers, and the We Care initiative helps us tell our story,” Shoup adds.
The machine is located near 37A in the south stands of the football stadium. The university's food service group oversees the machine's use and will keep it stocked throughout the season, as supplies allow.
The machine was the brainchild of OPC communications coordinator, Meghan Winters. Last year, the first bacon vending machine was placed in the animal science building at the university, in honor of finals season. Hormel, Sugardale and Smithfield donated the bacon to fill the machine, and the proceeds benefited the meat science program.