MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the tiny agricultural town of Pierz, they rely on their butcher shops.
Many have come and gone, but one stands the test of time.
Thielen Meats, voted Best of Minnesota, has been in the family for four generations.
Joe and his brothers, Andy and Matt, officially took over from their pops in January.
Rewind to 1922. That’s when Joe, Andy and Matt’s great grandfather — Phil — first built the butcher shop.
“That was an old general store with a little, tiny meat market in the back. You had to walk through the furniture store to get to it,” Joe Thielen said. “So I guess you bought your furniture and it came home smelling like bacon.”
That is what they are most famous for, as seen in the Thielen mantra: a day without bacon is like a day without sunshine.
The Thielen brothers feed the bacon obsessed, selling 5,000 pounds of it every week.
“We just got done reading an article in the back about Frank Sinatra that used to buy bacon here. My cousin Amy‘s got a TV show. She always uses our products. We’ve shipped to Martha Stewart,” Joe said.
Even the New York Times wrote about their irresistible bacon, saying, “Leaner than most, it has an ideal meat-to-fat ratio … But the best part may be the smokiness … with just the right cure of salt and seasonings.”
“I think it probably has a lot to do with the smoke houses. My grandpa built them, and we’ve been running them the same way ever since, and they just can’t be duplicated,” Joe said.
Modern smoke houses get things done in half the time, and they circulate the air. Not here.
The meat is hand-rotated to make sure their meats, particularly bacon, is just right.
“It’s a lot of work, it takes a lot longer, but the flavor is a lot better,” he said.
It’s so good, even Father B gives the bacon his blessing. No secret ingredient necessary.
“You just bless it and that’s good enough,” Father B said.
That’s some holy bologna! Best bacon aside, that special something that keeps people coming back for nearly 100 years might not even be in the meat.
“All of our employees have been here a long time. They’re really great, and that helps a lot,” Joe said. “We’ve always had a lot of Thielens working here, so we’ve always tried to keep up the tradition. And I think every generation has tried to do a little bit better than the last one.”
Thielen Meats is a popular stop for folks going to and from cabin country in Brainerd. It’s located right off Highway 25.
And if you can’t make the trip, their bacon is sold at Lunds and Byerly’s.