UW Health Sports Medicine 

Precursor to the Axe



Whos hungry for some bacon

The Slab of Bacon trophy was the precursor to the Paul Bunyan Axe, the trophy awarded to the winner of the annual Minnesota vs. Wisconsin football game. The Slab of Bacon was the first symbol of one of the most heated and most-played rivalries in Division I-A football.

The Slab of Bacon was created in 1930 as a way for the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin to commemorate their rivalry. The trophy, carved by Dr. R.B. Fouch of Minneapolis, was a piece of black walnut wood carved with a football. The football was topped by a letter W or M, depending on how it was held.

Scores of each Wisconsin-Minnesota game were printed on the back of the trophy. When the Slab of Bacon changed teams, it was presented to the winning school by a sorority from the losing school.

In the mid-1940s, the Slab of Bacon went missing. It was replaced by the Paul Bunyans Axe in 1948.

Remarkable still to this day, the Slab of Bacon was found in 1994, nearly 50 years after it mysteriously disappeared. It was found by an intern from the mens sports information office while cleaning out a storage room. Although it was officially deemed lost, it had been maintained for some time. When it was discovered, the scores of every Wisconsin-Minnesota game from 1930-70 had been engraved on the back of the trophy.

Former Wisconsin football coach Barry Alvarez said at the time, We took home the bacon and kept it.

The Slab of Bacon trophy currently is housed in the Wisconsin Football Office.

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