As March Madness tips off, so does the fourth-annual Pulled Pork Madness. The bracket-style social media contest, presented by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), pits Iowa restaurants against each other for the best pulled pork sandwich.
This year’s “Sweet 16” matchups were announced Monday and include several past contenders. Pork fans have until 10 a.m. Friday, March 19 to vote and help determine which advance to the next round.
Pulled Pork Madness, which mimics the NCAA’s college basketball tournament, follows a similar narrowing process that gets restaurants to the “Elite Eight” and “Final Four.” Earlier this month, IPPA received 544 nominations for 65 Iowa restaurants. The two restaurants with the most votes in each of IPPA’s eight districts make up the “Sweet 16” bracket.
- District 1: The Roadhouse, Orange City, vs. The Lunchbox, Spencer
- District 2: Double M Catering & Sandwich Shop, Emmetsburg, vs. Smokin’ Grumps Barbecue, Rockwell City
- District 3: Whiskey Road Tavern & Grill vs. Starbeck’s Smokehouse, both in Cedar Falls
- District 4: Backwoods Bar and Grill, McGregor, vs. 1st & Main, Dubuque
- District 5: Junction Cafe, Bedford, vs. Bordenaro’s Meat Market, Carroll
- District 6: Timber Ridge Country Market & Cattle Company, Osceola, vs. UNRVLD Barbecue Bar, West Des Moines
- District 7: Smokin’ J’s Barbecue, Lynnville, vs. Legends American Grill, Marshalltown
- District 8: Smilee’s Ice Cream & More, De Witt, vs. Smokin’ Butt Barbecue, Davenport
Other voting deadlines are March 24 to determine the “Final Four” and March 29 to choose the final two. The championship round ends April 1, with the winner announced April 2.
Cast votes and see the results from each round at IPPA’s website, and by following the organization’s Facebook page. Also, keep up with the contest on social media using the #PulledPorkMadness hashtag.
“A year ago this month, restaurants across the state faced mandatory COVID-19 shutdowns, followed by months of capacity restrictions and slow business,” noted Hannah Spurr, IPPA’s consumer outreach director. “This contest not only celebrates great pulled pork—but also rallies support for local establishments as they recover from this pandemic.”
Along with bragging rights, the top vote-getter will receive $250 and a “Pulled Pork Madness” plaque. Previous winners include Whatcha Smokin? BBQ + Brew in Luther (2020); Warehouse Barbecue Co. + Brewhouse in Ottumwa (2019); and Moo’s BBQ in Newton (2018).