Chicago food on the hoof: Scrrrrrrrream for Moo & Oink!

Win a year’s worth of Moo & Oink! In their Sizzling Summer Giveaway on Facebook, the meaty company is offering the winner a year’s worth of hot links, chitterlings, burgers, hot dogs, chicken fritters, rib tips and other favorites.

The Moo & Oink brand has deep Chicago roots. Who could forget its classic jingle? Composed by Chicago DJ Richard Pegue, with lyrics penned by the company’s then CEO,Barry Levy, and his secretary, Lillian Bassett, that exhortation to “Wave for catfish! Moo & Oink! Scrrrrrrrream for ribs! Moo & Oink!” ran on local TV and radio stations for some two dozen years. It was so popular that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler sang it on “Saturday Night Live” in 2005.

Moo & Oink

Now part of Best Chicago Meat Co., Moo & Oink originated as a wholesaler called Calumet Meat Co. founded by Levy’s great uncle, Russian immigrant Joe Lezak, in 1948. The family’s meaty heritage dated back more than 150 years, to forebears who were kosher meat sellers andshochets (ritual slaughterers) in the Pale.

The Lezaks immigrated to the U.S. between 1910 and 1922, and by the 1940s, they were operating 17 butcher shops, delicatessens and meat businesses around Chicago. Patriarch Jacob Lezak, Joe’s father, worked as a shochet until he was 92. Today, another branch of the family runs L & L Packing Co., a meat supplier to such restaurants as NahaBob Chinn’s Crab House and Prairie Grass Cafe.

As more relatives joined Calumet Meat and the company expanded, adding retail sales, the name changed to Lezak & Levy Wholesale Meats and then, in 1977, to Moo & Oink. Levy, who retired as Moo & Oink’s president a few years ago, spurred the name change. He recalled:

“You should have seen the looks around the table when I suggested we rename the company Moo & Oink. I was about 25 at the time. The founder of Calumet Meat Company, then in his 70s, asked, ‘Moo & Ink, what is that suppose to mean?’

“ ‘Moo & Oink … you know … mmooooo, oink, oink, like the sounds the cows and pigs make. It’s name recognition; no one could you ever forget a name like Moo & Oink.’ I could see everyone at the meeting saying ‘Moo & Oink’ over and over again quietly to themselves. After three or four minutes of silence, Joe Lezak, my great uncle, who 40 years earlier, had named the company Calumet Meat after the street location at 31st and Calumet, asked, ‘You really want to change the name of the company to Moo & Ink?’


“A smile, a frown, a smile, a sigh, ‘Okay! If that’s your name, Moo & Ink it is.’ Over six generations in the meat business and now we are Moo and Oink.”



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