Updated: March 24, 2013 6:05AM
Moo & Oink fans salivating for the company’s rib tips, hot links and High Five barbeque sauce can buy them at the click of a mouse at
The website offers 16 Moo & Oink products — all unchanged from their original recipes.
The website launched about a month ago with an inaugural “gift” order from a Moo & Oink fan in Cary, N.C., to a friend in San Ramon, Calif. The customer shipped a 10-pound box of rib tips and 2.5 pounds of pork hot links at a cost of $71.79.
The online orders ship in dry ice through FedEx ground transportation in Chicago, and by second-day air outside of Chicago.
“The pork hot links have been the biggest seller (online) so far,” said Tony McHale, corporate brand manager for Best Chicago Meat, headquartered at 4649 W. Armitage. “My guess is that the rib tips will probably become the biggest seller because Moo & Oink fans like the uncooked product. They like to be creative and cook it their way.”
McHale said the company gets 15 to 20 calls and emails a day nationwide from people wanting to know how they can find the Moo & Oink products.
“Everyone knows who Moo & Oink is and knows the jingle from the TV commercials,” he said.
Best Chicago Meat Co. emerged as the winner in a January 2012 bankruptcy auction for the Moo & Oink brand, bidding $530,000 for the intellectual property —the Moo & Oink characters, web site and product recipes. Best Chicago Meat own 80 percent of Moo & Oink, with South Side food company Dutch Farms Inc., holding a 20 percent stake.
The properties where Moo & Oink’s four stores remain shuttered are still up for sale.
The new owners plan to introduce 11 more Moo & Oink products this year, both on-line and in 300 grocery stores throughout the Chicago area, and expand the website to include other iconic Chicago good companies.
That means online shoppers could put Moo & Oink’s hot links in the same virtual shopping cart as a famous pizza, popcorn or dessert.
“If we can be that one-stop e-commerce shop for all things great in Chicago food, that’s a great opportunity,” McHale said. No date has been set for other foods to be posted on the website.
Local grocery stores that sell Moo & Oink products can be found on the website with a zip code search at moo-oink.com/where-to-buy.
The stores include mostly South Side and West Side independent grocers and Jewel-Osco, Strack & Van Til, Food 4 Less, Pete’s Fresh Market, Save-A-Lot, Tony’s Finer Foods, Walt’s and Walmart superstores.
Moo & Oink is negotiating to sell products in Walmart’s smaller-format Neighborhood Markets, too.
Other new developments include:
• Moo & Oink’s Facebook page, at Facebook.com/MooandOink, lets people become friends by hitting the “like” button. The friends get coupons they can print out and take to a store.
• In the spring, Moo & Oink will re-introduce Barbeque Sprinkles, a dry rub that has emerged as the most requested item. Other items slated for rollout are a hot sauce, a seasoning salt, chicken wing sauce and fish and chicken breading.
• A new cartoon character, Gobble the turkey, has appeared on Moo & Oink’s Facebook page. He will join Moo the cow and Oink the pig as a costumed character this summer, representing chicken and turkey products.
• Moo & Oink products will be sold in as-yet-unannounced stores in Detroit later this year, with plans to expand to Atlanta, Ga., northern Florida and Alabama in 2014.
“In the Southeast, we want to position ourselves as barbeque headquarters where people can have great family outings all year round,” McHale said.
Customers are glad to welcome back Moo & Oink, including suburbanites who heard the Moo & Oink jingle but never shopped their urban stores, he said.
“Sales have exceeded our expectations,” McHale said. “We haven’t gotten our return on investment yet, but we are pleased about where the company is going.”
A bankruptcy judge put Moo & Oink, the iconic South Side 150-year-old meat retailer, up for auction on Nov. 14 after creditors had forced the company into Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.
Moo & Oink’s demise, following the owner’s internal family disputes and an aging and shrinking customer base, put 200 employees out of work on Sept. 9, 2012. The employees received no severance benefits.
Seven years before the bankruptcy auction, the company had reached a high of 400 employees and more than $70 million in sales. Its cow and pig mascots and Moo & Oink jingle had become well known that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler sang the weekend on “Saturday Night Live” in 2005.
Rachel Weber, associate professor in the Urban Planning and Policy department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said population declines and a trend toward mall-based retailing in the city’s African-American neighborhoods have hurt retail development in the inner city. Other retail experts point to store closings by Best Buy, Sears, Office Depot, Barnes & Noble and OfficeMax, among others, as examples of companies that fall behind bigger, more technologically savvy rivals.