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Two years after bankruptcy, Moo & Oink expands

Two years after it was bought out of bankruptcy, Chicago legend Moo & Oink is growing its Midwest market. Moo & Oink, which went under in 2011 despite some of the most hypnotic commercials ever to hit local airwaves, is forging into Wisconsin and Minnesota next week after striking a deal with the Roundy’s supermarket conglomerate.

Of course, this incarnation of Moo & Oink is under different ownership. The attenuated company that declared bankruptcy two years ago after seeing 2011 revenues fall to less than half of 2009 levels is no more.

Best Chicago Meat Co. bought the brand’s intellectual property at auction in January 2012, spending $530,000 for Moo & Oink’s characters and product recipes, and has since reincarnated the brand across the Midwest. With the new markets, Moo & Oink products, which include sausages, rib-tips, breaded tenderloins and BBQ sauce, are now sold in 350 stores across five states. The company has also trotted out new products.

The company’s four South and West Side grocery stores haven’t shared the rebirth. After being passed over at auction, they’ve gone to seed.

Best Chicago Meat is happy with its purchase, saying that customers still identify with the name, even if there’s no brick-and-mortar store to accompany it. “We have great brand recognition,” says Tony McHale, a brand manager at the company. South Side food company Dutch Farms Inc. holds a 20 percent stake in the brand.

Roundy’s operates 161 grocery stores under Pick ‘n Save, Rainbow, Copps, Metro Market and Mariano’s names and will carry Moo & Oink products at 18 Pick ‘n Save locations in Wisconsin and 8 Rainbow stores in Minnesota. Moo & Oink products will also be available at the new Mariano’s South Loop location, which opens this October.

ABOVE: Moo the cow from the Moo and Oink’s chain, reaches out for Joey Karas who was being held by dad, Don Karas, during the Dutch Farms food show, at the Tinley Park Convention Center this February. Photo by Matt Marton