Red Wing Heritage Kangatan 8180 Boots

Red Wing Heritage Kangatan 8180 Boots Ted Williams

Normally this is the kind of post I’d save for a Monday since Red Wing is a Midwestern brand and all. However, there’s no way a product launch this cool could be contained. And the fact that the World Series is going on right now makes it even more fitting. So what could garner such a special post? How about the launch of the Kangatan 8180 Boots, based off of a pair of boots originally designed for Ted Williams.  Continue reading

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Brand Bracket 2014: Midwest Food Edition | Potluck Region, Second Round

2014 Midwest Food Bracket Second Round

A big thank you goes out to Flyover Press for sponsoring the bracket. Flyover Press is a proud advocate of Midwest pride and puts the heart and soul of the heartland into its clothing and posters. During the length of the competition, readers can save 20% on orders at Flyover Press by using the code “FoodBracket” at checkout.

The match ups in the round have all worked out to have intriguing subplots. Some were on purpose, at least one was a happy accident. There’s a deep-dish dispute, a corn clash, a roadside rivalry and a cross-state confrontation.

Vote once per poll, picking your favorite food out of the choices. Winners advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Voting closes at 11:00 PM EST on Friday, October 24.

#1 Deep-Dish Pizza vs #9 Detroit-Style Pizza

Clearly we’re all about big hearty pizzas in the Midwest. Fans disappointed by Jet’s losing in the First Round can take some solace in pulling for Detroit-Style this round.

 

#5 Sweet Corn vs #13 Corn Dogs

In a shocker corn dogs beat out beer cheese soup. It takes a strong effort to dethrone anything made with beer. By the way has anyone beer battered corn dogs? Because that would be awesome. Although without sweet corn and the cornmeal it provides, we’d have no corn dogs. Tough call here.

 

#3 Cincinnati Chili vs #11 St. Elmo’s Shrimp Cocktail

The St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail backed up the argument that it should be here with a sound win in the First Round. Things stand to get a bit more tough with Cincinnati chili looming. It’s an all out battle for I-74.

 

#2 Burnt Ends vs #7 St. Louis Ribs

This is the battle we all wanted, Kansas City versus St. Louis. A barbecue brawl. East versus West. Beef versus pork. And while it will be epic, I have an unfortunate feeling that after last night, both are glad they aren’t facing a mission-style burrito.

 

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Brand Bracket 2014: Midwest Food Edition | Corporate Region, Second Round

2014 Midwest Food Bracket Second Round

A big thank you goes out to Flyover Press for sponsoring the bracket. Flyover Press is a proud advocate of Midwest pride and puts the heart and soul of the heartland into its clothing and posters. During the length of the competition, readers can save 20% on orders at Flyover Press by using the code “FoodBracket” at checkout.

The Corporate side of the Bracket had a nice mix of favorite dominance and plucky upstarts that either pushed some favorites to the brink of defeat or outright won. That makes for a fun and exciting competition that should only get better as we continue.

Vote once per poll, picking your favorite food out of the choices. Winners advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Voting closes at 11:00 PM EST on Friday, October 24.

#9 Faygo vs #16 IBC Root Beer

I expected Vernor’s to cruise through the top half of the bracket. Instead it went down to the 16 seed in the First Round. Now another Michigan-based soft drink gets a chance at revenge.

 

#4 Kool-Aid vs #12 Biggby Coffee

Biggby came on strong late to win the coffee wars. Can it keep the momentum going or will people continue to drink the Kool-Aid?

 

#3 Skyline Chili vs #6 Graeter’s

For awhile it looked like Skyline may have been just a bit too regional and it would be toppled by Dog ‘n Suds, another purveyor of a Midwestern take on chili. It rallied back for the win to set up an all-Ohio showdown with Graeter’s.

 

#2 Culver’s vs #7 Steak ‘n Shake

It appears that Steak ‘n Shake is the people’s choice for late night fast food. Just imagine if Culver’s, with its buttery burgers and fried cheese curds was open at 3 am as well.

 

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Brand Bracket 2014: Midwest Food Edition | Junk Food Region, Second Round

2014 Midwest Food Bracket Second Round

A big thank you goes out to Flyover Press for sponsoring the bracket. Flyover Press is a proud advocate of Midwest pride and puts the heart and soul of the heartland into its clothing and posters. During the length of the competition, readers can save 20% on orders at Flyover Press by using the code “FoodBracket” at checkout.

While the top half of this side of the Bracket thrived on the favorites winning out, chaos reigned supreme down here. Three double digit seeds advanced, two others nearly pulled off huge upsets and my beloved paczkis went down. Why would you do this? This is a tragedy on par with the fact that paczkis aren’t available year-round. What further anarchy will you cause this round?

Vote once per poll, picking your favorite food out of the choices. Winners advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Voting closes at 11:00 PM EST on Thursday, October 23.

#1 Frozen Custard vs. #8 Blue Moon Ice Cream

Frozen custard versus ice cream. That’s a huge battle right there. To egg or not to egg?

 

#12 Sugar Cream Pie vs. #13 Kuchen

Apparently I’m going to need to seek out some kuchen since it was able to beat out the paczki. Sugar cream pie beat out gooey butter cake by only one vote in the First Round. This one has the makings of another down-to-the-wire finish.

 

#6 Buckeyes vs. #14 Puppy Chow

With Mackinac fudge going down, we unfortunately missed out on an epic Michigan-Ohio tussle. When it comes down to it, buckeyes and puppy chow are pretty similar, with both making heavy use of chocolate and peanut butter. That makes for an intriguing Second Round showdown.

 

#2 Fried Cheese Curds vs. #7 Toasted Ravioli

This match up is all about deep frying and cheese. Deep-fried cheese. Glorious. Excuse me while I go indulge myself.

 

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Brand Bracket 2014: Midwest Food Edition | Sandwich Region, Second Round

2014 Midwest Food Bracket Second Round

A big thank you goes out to Flyover Press for sponsoring the bracket. Flyover Press is a proud advocate of Midwest pride and puts the heart and soul of the heartland into its clothing and posters. During the length of the competition, readers can save 20% on orders at Flyover Press by using the code “FoodBracket” at checkout.

The Sandwich Region was pretty straight forward in the First Round. The favorites won all but one match and those wins tended to not even be close. Dominance was asserted. The Second Round match ups look quite juicy, like a dipped Italian beef.

Vote once per poll, picking your favorite food out of the choices. Winners advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Voting closes at 11:00 PM EST on Thursday, October 23.

#1 Italian Beef vs. #8 Jucy Lucy

In the First Round, Italian beef vanquished its in-state rival, the horseshoe sandwich. The Jucy Lucy pulverized the loose meat sandwich. Now it’s a battle for beef supremacy with the key x factors being giardiniera on one side and oozing cheese on the other.

 

#4 Pork Tenderloin vs. #5 Fried Walleye

Honestly, I was a tad surprised the cheese frenchee didn’t put up more of a fight against the fried walleye. A deep-fried grilled cheese sounded like a dark horse if there ever was one. This one should be a great battle. There’s some bias here on my part, but I’m leaning towards the sandwich that pairs best with onion rings and a frosty mug of root beer.

 

#6 Frybread Tacos vs. #14 Pierogi

The pierogi pulled off the one First Round upset in this region. Obviously it was deemed Midwestern enough even though it enjoys a strong presence in other Rust Belt cities. The dream continues against the pride of the Dakotas, the frybread taco.

 

#2 Chicago Dog vs. #7 Beer Brats

Chicago versus Wisconsin. There’s a longtime rivalry between the two. It’s only fitting sausage supremacy will be determined in this heavyweight battle. The Chicago Dog has all the toppings. The bratwurst has, well, beer. This could be epic.

 

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Hugh & Crye Silo OCBD

Hugh & Crye Silo Oxford Shirt

The oxford cloth button-down is the workhorse of your closet. Chances are you’re going to wear it more often than any other shirt you own. Adding a tie turns it into a suitable dress shirt, undoing the top button and rolling up the sleeves transitions it to weekend wear. With this much wear you’re going to want to have several to choose from at any time. At only $55, the Silo OCBD from Hugh & Crye makes it painfully simple to load up on shirts without breaking the bank. Continue reading

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Austen Heller Parkers Loafers

Austen Heller Parkers Suede Loafers

Chicago’s been having a rough go of it lately. The Cubs and White Sox both finished with equally awful records, Northwestern lost to a MAC team this year and the Blackhawks are the last Chicago team to win at Soldier Field. At least the city has Austen Heller to be proud of. The purveyor of quality loafers just released a swath of suede options for the fall, including the artfully crafted ParkersContinue reading

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Saturday Sip: New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale

New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale

I remember the first time I tried pumpkin beer. It was my junior year of college and I was spending the weekend at Western Michigan with Chelsea. I had only recently started diving in to the world of craft beer. Up until that point, good beer was anything that wasn’t Natty Light. We were out with Chelsea’s sister and brother-in-law, the one person I have to thank for introducing me to a world of beer beyond domestics. Being my guide into these new waters, he suggested I try New Holland’s Ichabod, the pumpkin beer staple of western Michigan. Continue reading

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Brand Bracket 2014: Midwest Food Edition | Potluck Region, First Round

2014 Midwest Food Bracket

Ah, the Potluck Region, the place for all those foods that didn’t really fit into the other categories. Still, there are a couple subregions in here. You’ll notice a pizza punching fest up top, a variety of meat match ups at the bottom and an Ohio showdown in the middle.

Vote once per poll, picking your favorite food out of the choices. Winners advance to the Second Round. Voting closes at 11:00 PM EST on Monday, October 20.

#1 Deep-Dish Pizza vs #16 Quad City-Style Pizza

In my opinion, deep-dish pizza is the best pizza. To think some people don’t even consider it pizza at all. On the other edge of the state, the Quad Cities have their own take on pizza. The crust is nutty sweet and the pizza is cut into strips instead of slices.

 

#8 St. Louis-Style Pizza vs #9 Detroit-Style Pizza

St. Louis-style combines a crispy thin crust with a super sweet tomato sauce and Provel cheese, a unique blend of Swiss, cheddar and provolone. Rectangular Detroit-style pizzas are all about the crust. The blue steel pans the pizza is cooked in perfectly caramelize the outside.

 

#5 Sweet Corn vs #12 Morels

The Corn Belt runs right through the Midwest and while a good chunk of that corn goes towards feeding livestock there’s still plenty of delicious sweet corn to go around. Eat it straight off the cob, use it in a casserole or bake it into cornbread, there’s no going wrong. Spring is morel hunting season in the Midwest. Sauteeing in butter results in a simple yet delicious dish.

 

#4 Beer Cheese Soup vs #13 Corn Dogs

Is there anything beer doesn’t make better? Cheese soup, delicious on its own, gets elevated to the heavens with the addition of beer. The inclusion of the corn dog as Midwestern could be quite contentious. Numerous places make claim to its invention, including Texas, but two strong cases can be made by Minnesota’s Pronto Pup and Springfield, Illinois’s Cozy Dog Drive-In. Deep-fried hot dogs in a cornmeal batter sounds pretty Midwestern to me.

 

#6 Hotdish vs #11 St. Elmo’s Shrimp Cocktail

Hotdish is a variety of casserole typically made with a starch, meat and vegetable mixed with canned soup. Nine times out of ten that canned soup will be cream of mushroom. St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail may be the most controversial food in this bracket. It may be the single greatest dish in the entire region but it’s only served at one Indianapolis restaurant. If you’ve ever had it, though, you can’t argue against that huge kick of horseradish being here.

 

#3 Cincinnati Chili vs #14 Johnny Marzetti

Cincinnati chili gets its unique flavor profile from seasonings such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice and/or chocolate. It’s almost always consumed on top of a hot dog or spaghetti. Johnny Marzetti is another Ohio specialty. Marzetti’s was an Italian restaurant in Columbus which was known for its signature creation, a casserole of noodles, tomato sauce, cheese and ground beef, topped off with shredded cheese and then baked.

 

#7 St. Louis Ribs vs #10 Barberton Chicken

Though St. Louis doesn’t have the national barbecue clout of Kansas City, it does have the St. Louis-style rib. The spare ribs are cut to remove the sternum, cartilage and rib tips to leave a rectangular-shaped rack. Barberton chicken is a distinct style of fried chicken introduced by Serbian immigrants to Barberton, Ohio, a small town outside of Cleveland.

 

#2 Burnt Ends vs #15 Chislic

Burnt ends are the stars of Kansas City-style barbecue. Cut from the fatty point half of a smoked brisket, they are intensely flavorful and considered a barbecue delicacy. They are often served cubed, similar to South Dakota’s chislic, deep-fried or grilled cubed meat served on a toothpick or skewer.

 

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Brand Bracket 2014: Midwest Food Edition | Corporate Region, First Round

2014 Midwest Food Bracket

The Midwest can widely be credited with introducing America to fast-food. You’re welcome. Discredit it all you want but it’s an impressive feat to maintain quality across hundreds or thousands of restaurants. While so many of the big chains got their starts here (McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s to name a few), I decided to focus on the smaller regional chains, those found primarily only in the Midwest that serve typical Midwestern dishes.

On the other side of the Corporate Region are the drinks that are uniquely Midwestern. Many smaller but iconic soft drink and coffee brands call the Midwest home. And for the record, it’s pop, not soda, and sorry Southerners but calling them all coke makes no damn sense at all.

Vote once per poll, picking your favorite food out of the choices. Winners advance to the Second Round. Voting closes at 11:00 PM EST on Monday, October 20.

#1 Vernors vs #16 IBC Root Beer

Vernorss, the unofficial official soft drink of Michigan. Just don’t call it ginger ale, it’s ginger drink. Missouri’s IBC Root Beer was probably the first “craft” pop I ever found. It used to be a treat to order one at a restaurant instead of the typical Coca-Cola/Pepsi offerings.

 

#8 Sioux City Sarsparilla vs #9 Faygo

Name checked in The Big Lebowski, Sioux City Sarsparilla is “The Granddaddy of all Root Beers.” Faygo is Michigan’s other soft drink company and would be most state’s number one.

 

#5 Caribou Coffee vs #12 Biggby Coffee

Minnesota’s Caribou Coffee is the second largest specialty coffee retailer in the country. While things seem to be slowing down a bit lately for Caribou, Biggby Coffee is as hot as the coffee it serves. Although primarily located in Michigan, it has been aggressively expanding across the Midwest and Southeast.

 

#4 Kool-Aid vs #13 Green River Soda

Kool-Aid is Nebraska’s official state soft drink. Oh yeah!!! Interestingly Green River, a retro pop once popular at soda fountains that was created in Chicago in 1919, precedes the actual act of dying the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day. You’ll still find it at diners across the Midwest.

 

#6 Graeter’s vs #13 MCL Cafeterias

Graeter’s won the initial battle of the Midwest ice cream shoppe giants to move on to face MCL Cafeterias. Indiana has a thing for cafeteria-style restaurants and MCL is the best-known. Look past the fact that it reminds you of high school because the food is ten times better than anything you had back then.

 

#3 Skyline Chili vs #14 Dog n Suds

Skyline Chili makes it possible for people across Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio to get Cincinnati chili anytime they want it. Dog n Suds combines the retro appeal of the drive-in with the classic Midwest coney dog and delicious root beer.

 

#7 Steak ‘n Shake vs #10 White Castle

You’re not a real Midwesterner unless you’ve stopped at a Steak ‘n Shake for a steakburger, fries and shake at some ungodly hour of the night. Free pass for those unfortunate enough to live in states without Steak ‘n Shakes. Honestly, the same could be said about White Castle, widely credited as the first fast-food chain in the US.

 

#2 Culver’s vs #15 Jet’s Pizza

How much Midwest awesomeness can be stuffed into one chain? Culver’s specializes in fried cheese curds, frozen custards and ButterBurgers, which are burgers generously slathered with butter and then toasted. Jet’s Pizza can be thanked for bringing Detroit-style pizza to the masses. You’ll be fighting over who gets the corner slices.

 

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