No, it’s not heaven, it’s just the heavenly smell of those Iowa pork chops grilling at the Iowa 80 Kitchen.
Or more specifically, a 1 1/2-inch thick full bone pork chop averaging 14 ounces, basted with a mixture of beer and water, and served with a baked potato, cole slaw, hot roll and your choice of drink for only $6.50.
Ok, maybe it is heaven.
Regardless, it’s been a fixture at the Walcott Jamboree as Iowa 80 salutes not only the drivers, but the farmers and the state of Iowa.
“It was just obvious,” Delia Moon Meier said. “Iowa is known for pork. One of the key items [when the Walcott Jamboree began] was Iowa chops, so it made sense to have a home grown thing.”
That first year, the Iowa 80 Kitchen served 900 pork chops over a two-day period. This year they expect to serve more than 6,000.
It keeps Bill Peel, owner and operator of the Iowa 80 Kitchen, and his crew of eight busy as they cook on 14 kettle grills made of 55-gallon drums.
He said it takes about 1,000 pounds of charcoal over the two days to cook all of the pork chops.
The busiest times for the cooks are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m and from 5 to 8 p.m. (it takes about 25 minutes to cook 45 pork chops at a time); otherwise, they cook to order. All of the food, excluding the cole slaw mix, is prepared on site.
“We’ll have a line of 300-400 people [during a rush],” Peel said. “We’ve never run out [of pork chops], but we’ve come close a couple of times.”
For those people who don’t like pork, the kitchen also offers beef BBQ sandwiches and quarter-pound hot dogs with potato chips and a drink.
However, the Walcott Jamboree just ain’t the same if you don’t have a pork chop.
This article first appeared in The Trucker in the July 7, 1997, issue. Its Flesch readability score registers 1.69912 — in other words, a child could understand the point I’m trying to get across in this feature.