As a teenager, Brad Magg worked at Walt’s Lemonade Stand at the Iowa State Fair. While pouring lemonades and counting back change, he fell in love with everything fair and set his sights on one day being part of the event with his own food stand.
“People kept telling me it’s impossible but I’ve been telling every person I have met for the past 15 years that I want a stand at the Iowa State Fair,” said Magg, who owns Goldie’s Ice Cream Shoppe in Prairie City and Magg Family Catering.
As the gates flung open at the fair Thursday morning the Colfax man’s dream of having a food stand at Iowa State Fair became a reality with The Bacon Box.
“I think it shows if you put your mind to something it can happen,” Magg said during a phone interview from The Bacon Box, which is located on the concourse across from the grandstand. “I really think if you dream it, work at it and set your mind to it, it can happen. I believe in karma and if you put good things out in the universe good things will come to you.”
Magg and Dominic Iannerelli, who is Jethro’s BBQ Head of Operations and Splash Executive Chef, decided to come up with a concept after learning about their mutual dream of having a food stand at the fair. The opportunity to be part of the 2019 fair came about thanks to Gary and Sue Kirke who own the stand. Magg said the couple, who also own Jalepeno Pete’s, wanted something new so they turned to Magg and Iannerelli who reimagined the former funnel cake stand into The Bacon Box.
“We have been friends for a long time, and we were talking and discovered we each had a life-long dream to have a food stand,” Magg said. “Then we were sharing our top secret ideas for the stands, we realized our ideas were actually pretty similar.”
Iannerelli concocted The Bacon Box’s signature item “The Bacon Ball,” which has the equivalent of nine pieces of bacon in it. The bacon balls are a cheese and bacon ball placed inside of a 2.5 ounce ball of ground Berkshire bacon wrapped with two more whole pieces of bacon. The culinary delight is then smoked for 45 minutes at 300 degrees until perfected, put on a stick, dipped into a special barbecue sauce and served hot, ready to eat.
“The Bacon Ball is Dom’s brainchild. He is a crazy mad food scientist and he makes up amazing food all the time. He is so creative,” Magg said. “He knows what to add, what that secret ingredient is to include to just take food to a whole new level.”
While Iannerelli is credited with the newest food on a stick, it was Magg who decided to offer a BLT featuring the bacon balls sans barbecue sauce.
“I always wanted to offer BLTs because it is perfect for the fair to have fresh, in-season tomatoes and bacon in the country’s largest pork producing state served up on a delicious Parker House roll,” Magg said. “We, to my knowledge, will be the only BLT at the fair.”
Also on the menu is Walt’s Lemonade Creamsicle, which pays homage to where Magg first dreamt of having his own food stand one day. The Bacon Box also will serve up Bacon Pecan Pie on a stick. The two masterminds are proud of offering a new menu for the 2019 Iowa State Fair that is not only unique but showcases Iowa foods.
“We really wanted to offer something fresh and special for Iowa,” he said. “Everything is locally sourced. The bacon is processed right here in Des Moines. The tomatoes are fresh garden tomatoes. Nothing is fried. The pies are all baked from scratch. Everything is handmade, fresh, right here in Iowa.”
Prior to the Iowa State Fair opening, The Bacon Box offered taste testing at a few Central Iowa events including Des Moines Arts Festival, Smoke Out Hunger and Newton Cares Classic. Magg said they have been overwhelmed by The Bacon Box’s reception.
“People really love the food,” he said. “It is so rewarding to hear people like what we have created.”
While the food has received good reviews so far, Magg said, ultimately, fair goers will decide if The Bacon Box is worthy of the Iowa State Fair seal of approval.
“The biggest compliment would be to see a line of people stretched out waiting to be served by The Bacon Box,” he said. “I want to be known as the guy who has that really great stand at the Iowa State Fair. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of for a very long time.”