The biggest thing we do from a creative standpoint is at the World Pork Expo every year. It’s like a State Fair food: We’re always trying to come up with the next “wow factor to attract new customers and get people to try new ways of preparing and enjoying pork.

Four years ago, we came up with the “Oinkball.” There was a guy in California who had developed the “Moinkball” – a beef meatball wrapped in bacon (hence the “m” for meat and “oink” for the bacon).

We decided to come up with our own pork meatball. We made it from scratch, wrapped it in bacon, covered it with a barbecue rub, put it in the smoker and called it the Oinkball. It should be no surprise that people loved it!

We do a ton of catering at World Pork Expo and feed about 3,000 people a day there. It’s always up to us to be creative with our customers.

Three years ago we did a sandwich called the “Three Blind Pigs.” It was a pork tenderloin, with ham and Gruyere cheese, bacon and a fried egg on top, served on Texas toast. It was a wonderful sandwich, but the customer didn’t take it to the next level. It was a smaller business and it didn’t compete well with some of the larger booths.

Another item that we created at World Pork Expo was our Smokehouse burger. We took ground pork, and then, after we cooked our Boston Butts, we took the fat cap off (which is seasoned and smoked) , cooled it down, put it through our grinder, mixed it in with the ground pork to add more fat content to it, then seasoned it and threw it back on the grill. It’s just a hugely delicious and highly flavored burger.

You might want to try some of these variations at home – you won’t be disappointed!

In my next commentary, I’ll tell you about a product we helped develop that is now featured at the homes of the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks, and the Chicago White Sox!