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By Staff | Apr 17, 2015

I recently told of how my interest in sports would hardly be a blip on a radar screen. When the sports announcer comes on after the 10 p.m. news and weather, I turn off the television because he has nothing to say that I want to hear.

However, that does not mean I am not a competitive person. My mental abilities far exceed my physical ones.

In school I was the last one standing during spelling bees, and I can hold my own in a trivia contest as long as the questions are not about sports.

Competition promotes excellence, and everything improves because of competition.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association has an annual contest for the best hamburger in Iowa.

And of course, the Iowa Pork Producers have an annual contest seeking the best breaded pork tenderloin sandwich in the state.

Places are nominated and restaurants visited by judges to decide who are worthy of the list of the best.

The two organizations publish the results, and I put the restaurant names and addresses into my GPS so we can try these sandwiches for ourselves.

I recently learned that pork tenderloin sandwiches are found easily in Iowa and Indiana, but not so easily elsewhere.

My former-resident-of-Minnesota wife told me she had not heard of a tenderloin sandwich until she came to Iowa when we were dating.

To prove her point she recently asked her children (residents of Minnesota) if they knew what a tenderloin sandwich was and their answer was, “A what?”

Well, we will have to change that.

Tenderloin sandwiches prepared by my wife were served to our daughter-in-law and two grandchildren on a recent visit, and they became believers.

I believe a restaurant’s overall quality of its food can be measured by its hamburger.

Does the patty appear to be one of those pre-formed, frozen in bulk and heated in a microwave patties – yuck – or a thick, juicy patty served on a toasted bun?


The hamburgers that win Iowa’s best hamburger competition are direct opposites of the hamburgers served by fast food franchises.

Fast food works hard to create a consistent product so that where ever their sandwich is ordered, it will taste the same regardless of location.

Winners of the best hamburger and tenderloin sandwich competition are typically one-of-a-kind eating establishments, usually family owned and operated.

They take pride in the reputation sandwiches they serve, sandwiches that they have created over time to loyal customers who return and ask for what they had the last time they were there.

The pork producers and cattlemen are onto something here as this promotes their product, gets people to try their own taste tests by stopping at these local businesses, and besides, who can complain about be directed to good food?

My wife and I, accompanied by my sister, are in the beginning of our Iowa tenderloin tour. How good is that going to be?

Reflecting today’s fondness of social media, when we are served our sandwiches, before eating them, we photograph them, tell people where we are, and upon completion, post our opinion.

Our tour is not limited to the names on the lists of best sandwiches. Maybe we will hear of, or find, that local out-of-the-way place that, in our opinion, serves the ultimate hamburger or pork tenderloin.

We have also discovered that people we meet and places we see along the way are just as enjoyable as the food.

Whoever said the judges’ decision is final?

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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