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September 22, 2016


How is it possible that bacon sausages didn’t exist until he invented them?

ar-160929995-jpgmaxw600q100cb20170104151027cci_ts20160923145515On a whim in 2008, Lance Avery hopped a quick flight to Des Moines to check out the inaugural Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, a small event that drew about 200 bacon enthusiasts to a local bar. He remembers seeing men dressed in bacon suits and others with pieces of bacon stuck to their faces and thinking, “These are my people.”

Avery is finding that “his people” are all over the place today. The Des Moines bacon festival? It was held earlier this year in the city’s convention center and hosted 14,000 fans from 42 states and seven countries. As for Avery, the former corporate chef now runs Big Fork Brands, a line of all-natural, antibiotic-free, naturally encased sausages made primarily with bacon that he introduced at the 2011 festival.

Big Fork Brands, which consists of Avery and a single sales manager, had total sales of about $500,000 in 2015 and is on pace to do about $800,000 in 2016 after landing placement in the refrigerated shelves of Whole Foods and Costco stores in Illinois over the past few months. Its annual run rate just surpassed $1 million in its most recent financial quarter. He thinks the Big Fork brand can be worth $15 million to $20 million by 2020.

“Right now, we have more leads than we can deal with,” says Avery, 41, who quit his day job as a food consultant in January to focus on Big Fork full time. “We’ve got to be smart and strategic about how we position the brand and where we go from here.”

Funded with about $300,000 of Avery’s own money plus a small bank loan (that was recently paid off), Big Fork is now distributed in about 15 states both at retail and through food-service channels. Available in eight varieties, including aged cheddar, maple and brown sugar, and best-seller hickory and applewood, Avery’s bacon sausages can be found in grocers such as Plum Market and restaurants like Tavern on Rush. They retail for $6.99 to $7.99 for a 12-ounce package of four links.

He’s now trying to take his startup to a national platform. To get there, Avery knows he’s going to need help. That may mean partnering with a bigger manufacturer that can use its sales teams and infrastructure to broaden Big Fork’s presence or a private-equity-style investor that can inject capital into the business to allow Avery to hire more staff to scale the business.

Darren Tristano, president of Chicago-based market research firm Technomic, says the product is innovative and has a chance to be a hit; but its appeal likely will be limited to a niche group of bacon fanatics. “It’s the type of product that appeals to a more affluent, craft-focused consumer who’s willing to pay more,” Tristano says. Big Fork is “very well-positioned for a bigger brand to come in, and purchase it and build it up.”

 Articles After the National Restaurant Show 2016:



Our Latest Segment on WGN:  http://wgntv.com/2016/05/27/lunchbreak-big-fork-sausage/

Check Out the Best Burger in Chicago That Isn’t on Any Menu … Yet

By Patty Wetli | November 16, 2015 12:09pm | Updated on November 17, 2015 9:24am


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Click Here to See the Video on WGN

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Big Fork, Big Bite

Clearly, we love bacon. We also love sausage. But bacon sausage? An almost scandalous love affair ensues. As soon as we tasted Big Fork Bacon Sausage, we knew we wanted to bring it to you. All seven flavors of it! Everyone has a favorite, but it’s hard to choose just one of these. And you don’t have to.

Lance Avery started hand-making his all-natural bacon sausages in Chicago just a few years ago. We’re enamored because he includes all the things we want: meat and chicken from Midwest producers and uncured bacon made without added nitrates and nitrites. He coarsely grinds them and stuffs them in a natural casing so they can get crispy as they cook. He leaves out the stuff we don’t want:  preservatives, MSG, hormones, antibiotic and artificial flavors. Then, he smokes the sausage with natural hardwood.
A variety of flavors ensures there’s something for everyone.
The Maple & Brown Sugar is ready for breakfast. We have all used a breakfast sausage to soak up that last bit of maple syrup from our pancake plate. Here, you get the sausage, the bacon AND the maple in one shot.  Find out why it’s our best seller!
Don’t think the Portabella is vegetarian! It, too, is made with pork and delicious bacon. But you’ll find the portabella mushrooms the second ingredient on the list with chunks of them throughout the sausage. These are so earthy and delicious and deserve center of the plate recognition. Serve alongside a cheesy pasta dish.
We do love cheese, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Aged Cheddar. Yes, Aged-Cheddar-Hardwood-Smoked-Bacon-Sausage… a mouthful and a glorious mouthful. You cut into this monster and see real Cheddar cheese is melting inside. Sliced, stuffed into a toasted roll with slivered apples and you’ll be cursing and praising us at the same time.

The other flavors include Spicy 3-Pepper, Chicken, Hickory & Applewood and Cracked Black Pepper.And if you are in the DFW area, don’t miss lance at our Fort Worth store, Saturday, March 14th from 10am-6pm with samples and more, then at Dallas Lovers Lane on Sunday, March 15th from 10am-6pm.

world-food-champCompeted in the World Food Championships November 12-18, 2014

With Big Fork Bacon Sausage

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