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Egg-Spensive Sandwich Grips Local Twitter

Plus questions about the interim U of M prez, Golden Valley gossip, and sinkholes as tourist traps in today's Flyover.

Twitter: @FrederickMelo|

Is Fred Melo’s hand massive or is that expensive sandwich tiny? How should we know!

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Racket's Definitive Taste Test? Stalled!

Those of you wise enough to stay off Twitter may have missed the Great Egg Sandwich Discourse. Allow us to scramble your brains with a quick recap. It began Tuesday, when PiPress reporter Frederick Melo tweeted a photo of a sandwich from Big E, the new egg-themed St. Paul restaurant from locally launched celeb chef Justin Sutherland. Most eyeballs seemed to go from the modest-looking sandwich to the accompanying menu pic, which features nine items that range in price from $15 to $17.

Value assessments began churning in the minds of tweeters, spurring a day's worth of Big E takes. A select few, like Maple Grove-based radio personality Jason DeRusha, offered vague marketplace defenses of the eye-popping price tag. Others, like area teacher Zach Floyd, expressed mind-blown disbelief that such a humble breakfast dish could approach the $20 threshold (fries are $4.50 extra). Some defenders evoked Eggslut, the Las Vegas-launched chain of "chef-driven" egg sandwiches, though their prices are in the neighborhood of $12. Many detractors cited elite Twin Cities examples that cost far less, like the ones at Colossal Café ($7.50), Marty's Deli ($9), or Claddagh Coffee ($7.50).

Big E skeptics seemed to win the day, if you can really consider anyone who participates in online egg sandwich fights a winner. (Glass houses, we know.) In the interest of beating (egg term) a dead horse, we decided to journey across the river Wednesday morning to assess the contentious sandwich for ourselves. Tedious egg-pricing stories are, apparently, my (Jay's) beat, so I (Jay) volunteered. As a fair-minded egg critic, I intended to approach the menu with a willingness to be blown away, to experience a gooey, buttery, rhapsodic taste symphony that only a rockstar chef could summon, thus justifying the eggsorbitant price. But Big E was closed when I first drove by around 10 a.m., and still closed when I circled back just after noon. The $15 breakfast sandwich verdict will have to wait for another day.

Spam-U-Mah

This week's Racket feature story is a feel-good exploration of the surprising and booming culture around Spam, the cult-loved canned ham product from Austin-based Hormel. Ready to feel less good? Let's talk about Jeff Ettinger, the former Hormel CEO who was named interim University of Minnesota president on Monday. Tomorrow at noon, U of M students, staff, and faculty plan to rally outside the Board of Regents meeting to protest, among other things, the "unqualified CEO" who's set to lead the school, according to a joint press release issued Wednesday by several campus groups. Says Gopalan Nadathur, secretary of the U's chapter of the American Association of University Professors: “The university is a place for scholarship and the development of thoughts and ideas to better humankind. A former CEO of a meat processing company with no academic credentials and an opportunistic attitude towards ethical principles is the last person who should be leading it." The choice is raising eyebrows nationwide:

For more on those principles, revisit this lengthy 2022 Daily Beast takedown of Ettinger that recently resurfaced on the UMN subreddit. At the time, the "King of SPAM" was running a congressional campaign that would ultimately fail, and DB's Roger Sollenberger seized on the opportunity to revisit Ettinger's Hormel tenure that was marred by "environmental citationssafety violations, and six-figure settlements for back wages and employment discrimination against women." (He was raking in $35 million per year when he retired, so shareholders clearly approved.) The most visceral bits are pulled from this 2012 Mother Jones piece that exposes Hormel's union-busting and, in grotesque detail, a notorious slaughterhouse machine that can liquefy 1,350 pig brains per hour. Between 2006 and 2008, the residual spray of liquid brain matter was tied to a mysterious neurological disease that hit around 20 workers inside Austin's Quality Pork Processing, at the time an exclusive Hormel supplier. Say what you will of staggeringly unpopular outgoing U of M Prez Joan Gabel: She at least kept the university safe from sickening hog-brain mist.

Bank Robbery That Never Happened Rocks Golden Valley

If you’re a fan of petty online suburban squabbling, the Strib’s Josie Albertson-Grove has a story for you today. A former City Council member in Golden Valley posted recently on Nextdoor that she heard of an armed bank robbery that police had failed to respond to, and wondered if anyone knew anything about it. In response, Police Chief Virgil Green scanned call logs and, finding nothing, issued a statement that there had been no bank robbery. Golden Valley mayor Shep Harris echoed the chief on Facebook, posting: “THERE WAS NO BANK ROBBERY." The good people of Golden Valley then strove to discover the truth for themselves on social media, where truth, of course, does not exist.

Maybe you suspect that these three public figures have some history interacting with one another. Well, you’re right. Joanie Clauson, the councilmember, has been loudly and repeatedly criticizing Green and Harris for failing to fully staff the police department, while the chief and mayor respond by pointing to statistics that crime is down in Golden Valley. As for the “bank robbery” in question? Some guy passed a note to a teller demanding money, then left without further incident. Hennepin County deputies who responded to the panic button categorized the incident as an "attempted robbery," and that was that.

Sinkhole Capital of the U.S. Is in MN

Could sinkhole tourism become a thing? While many view sinkholes as a dangerous annoyance, some folks in Fountain, Minnesota, look at them and see dollar signs. That’s the gist of this delightfully weird MPR story about this small town, just south of Rochester, which boasts 10,000-plus naturally occurring sinkholes. These things are generally a bummer; once an area sinks it’s unfarmable and neighbors have to buy sinkhole insurance and watch for people who treat them like dumping sites. But still, there’s hope that these things could bring money to the town, offering lessons on geology and nature, and encouraging people to visit local businesses while in the area. “You have to work with what you have,” says local brewery owner Eric Luoma. “So it would be cool if we had a wonderful beach. But we don't. We have sinkholes.” Hey, if the Uptown sinkhole taught us anything, it’s that sinkholes bring people together.

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