Ask Abe: Slab of Bacon

An Alum

Is it true that the Wisconsin Badgers used to play the Minnesota Gophers for a bacon trophy?


Yes, it’s true: the Badgers and Gophers battled for the “Slab of Bacon” trophy from 1930 until 1943. But without warning, this delicious piece of black-walnut wood went missing after a loss to Bucky’s bitter rival in 1943. To the chagrin of most Badger fans, Minnesota dominated the border battle for the Slab of Bacon with an impressive record of 11–3. (Who else feels sick — like a bad case of swine flu?) The famous Paul Bunyan Axe replaced the Slab of Bacon trophy in 1948, and the Badgers have fared much better since, with a record of 42–24–3. But that’s only the beginning of this sizzling tale. After its disappearance, the Slab of Bacon trophy resurfaced more than 50 years later — in a Camp Randall Stadium storage locker in 1994. The trophy had been well cared for and had all of the game scores from 1930 through 1970 painted on the back. Barry Alvarez, former Wisconsin football head coach and current athletic director, teased, “We brought home the bacon and kept it.” Currently, the all-time series is deadlocked at 59–59–8. Next Saturday, on November 25, the Badgers will have a chance to take the lead in college football’s oldest and tastiest rivalry.