Smithfield throws down bacon-filled baseball party at UNC

UNC hosted a gigantic bacon party at their baseball field.

Bacon-wrapped grilled cheese sandwiches sit at the Smithfield Foods table before the UNC vs UNC Wilmington baseball game at Bryson Field on Tuesday

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Did you hear the one about the vegetarian who went to Bacon Night? … He won a year’s supply of bacon.

No, seriously.

Freshman Quinn Rhodes went to UNC baseball’s second annual bacon night promotion Tuesday night with his friends, and despite being a lifelong vegetarian, he entered a drawing for a chance to bring home the bacon for a full year, just for kicks.

Irony reared her beautiful head and Rhodes’ name was one of two pulled out of the pot for a chance to race around the Boshamer Stadium bases at the end of the fourth inning for the rights to literally bring home the bacon.

But before he and fellow contestant James “Jammin'” Altman could start sprinting, they had to don bacon costumes, which happened to just be laying around the stadium after the breakfast for dinner promotion a week earlier.

Quick reminder: he’s vegetarian. In a bacon costume. Running his heart out for a year’s supply of free bacon that he won’t eat.

And to top it all off, he won the dang thing in a near photo finish.

“I just came with my friends because they were excited about the bacon,” he said, still trying to catch his breath afterwards. “So I’ll be sure to use this on them.”

Another lucky fan also won a year’s supply of bacon — no exercise required — through an old-school raffle draw. He grabbed his book of Smithfield bacon worth more than $350 and dashed (probably to the nearest grocery store).

Along with the year of bacon giveaway, Smithfield donated 200 pounds of bacon to the promotion night, and with it, UNC went hog wild.

Bacon-wrapped grilled cheese. Bacon-wrapped corn dogs. Bacon tots. Bacon Cheeseburgers. BLTs. Swiss cheese and bacon on sourdough. Everything single thing you could ever want with bacon.

I thought about sampling every item on the menu (in the name of journalism, of course) but my arteries (and my wallet) forced me to settle for the free bacon-wrapped grilled cheese being distributed to the first 400 UNC students through the gates, or really anyone who wandered up to the tent.

I saw a picture of it on Twitter before arriving, and when I got my hands on the real one, I was initially a little let down. The sandwich was, well, really only half a sandwich, and distributed from a cooler in Chick-fil-A-esque sandwich bags. Not nearly as glamorous as I’d hoped such a dish would be. Would the bread be soggy? Would it be good cold? How long had it been sitting here anyway?

But when I took my first bite all the doubt and disappointment was snuffed out.

The bacon was savory and soft without being too fatty and the cheese melted into the bread, which adhered it to the bacon, making it a savory amalgamation indeed.

Resisting the urge to finish the sandwich in less than a minute took every ounce of self control. It was pure bliss.

After I finished eating and, perhaps licking my fingers (a lady never tells), I stood, stunned for a minute and turned to a few people standing nearby with their sandwiches, discussing our shared religious experience in hushed tones.

It truly was something to behold.

Peak America, celebrating the perfect wedding of its favorite pastimes — baseball and bacon.