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An Olympic throwback

Surprises – who doesn’t love ’em?

I’m thinking flowers, an upward swing in the market, a calf crop from a new bull that turned out even better than anticipated – these are the things that put a little pep in your step.

I’ve been watching the Olympics as of late (because who hasn’t?) and it got me thinking: I bet those expected to win hate surprises. I bet those managing these games hate surprises.

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Jason Clever, a designer at CAB, carries the famous Olympic torch.

There are the out-of-nowhere upsets, persons or teams that started near the bottom and snag the gold. They’re loving it, but not the favored ones displaced. These guys and gals come well prepared, if only they can execute as flawlessly as we flawed humans are capable of doing.

Gets me pumped just thinking about it.

So in the spirit of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games and the fact that we’ve been a bit reminiscent celebrating the brand’s 40th anniversary year, let me tell you about a little surprise that involves CAB and the world’s foremost sports competition.

10_01 frank eater bu02

One fan showed American patriotism along with his love of quality beef.

The year – 2002. The Olympics – the XIX Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The surprise – a shortage of frankfurters.

Our own Deanna Walenciak was closest to the 2002 games. A marketing team member at the time, who now heads our education efforts, she led the Olympic charge and remembers how the CAB item became the surprise story.

13_03 Olympic Media Event 2000

Then CAB president Jim Riemann answers questions at the Olympic signing.

“You do all of this marketing and try to plan stories around the games,” Deanna says. “We also put a lot of work into having the correct amount of product. We really wanted to get that right.”

In this particular case, not “sticking the landing” turned out to be an even sweeter victory, one CNN and various news outlets felt compelled to share.

It wasn’t that they actually ran out, Deanna says, but had Usinger’s sausage company, out of Milwaukee, Wis., not stepped up to the plate and increased production, the story could have been different.

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Available at all concessions throughout the games, as well as Olympic Village, the CAB frankfurters and chili were hits. The latter was developed specifically for the games; both are still available today.

There was no one to blame, Deeana says. Simply a surprise – one of the good kinds.

“All of the models assumed how many we would sell but people stayed at the events even longer and were ordering frankfurters at 9:30 in the morning, all morning long,” she says. “The food at the concession stands was just that phenomenal.”

10_02 Retailer wins trip to Games-1

In anticipation, CAB held competitions with retailers and consumers alike. Lucky winners won trips to the games.

A bit of a history buff when it comes to the brand and an Olympic fan to boot, I thought that was a pretty fun fact.

As the games come to an end, here’s wishing all Olympic athletes the best. Even more, here’s to good surprises.

Thanks for allowing me to tell your story,


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Born and raised in the Sunshine State, I grew up surrounded by more livestock than people on my family’s working cattle ranch. A willingness to address a crowd and an eagerness to ask questions led to my passion for spreading the word of agriculture. A lover of words, cattle and those who produce them, I couldn't ask for a better job. A Gator grad, blessed by years of learning and Tebow football, I’m a firm believer that people should be honest, lyrics should be moving and tea should be sweet. I love music, my family, my God, and of course writing for CAB.
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