MASON CITY | The majestic Up in Smoke BBQ Bash SPAM Contest trophy is going back to Minnesota.
Hogline BBQ of Owatonna won the judges over with a SPAM hamburger filled with cheese, a creation known in Minnesota as a Juicy Lucy, and Grain Belt beer-battered onion rings.
"We're from Owatonna, Minnesota — we're from SPAM Country,"said Hogline team member Dustin Reese. "We put three practices on this to get this thing just right to make sure it was exactly what we wanted (and) representative of SPAM."
Bubba Q's of Ottumwa was second with SPAM tacos and jalapeno poppers. Dig In Cookers of Ankeny was third with SPAM egg rolls.
The competition was tough. The winning margins were slim.
"You've gotta put something good out and just hope that the judges like it because everybody's cooking some good stuff," said Hogline team member Jon Hanson.
Judge Resha Hovde, a SPAM brand ambassador at Hormel Foods, said the teams put out quality dishes.
"A lot of really nice BBQ notes, the grilling notes coming through," she said. "Fantastic job by all of the teams here tonight."
Even though Hogline wasn't confident in a victory, the three men knew before the contest that their Juicy Lucy was the real deal.
"We tried it Wednesday night and the second time we were like, yep, this is right," Jeff Hanson said.
The SPAM contest was one of two specialty competitions held Friday. Several teams also made chili for Bash-goers to taste and vote on.
The chili contest winner will be announced on Saturday.