Minnesota’s most iconic brat? The black pepper brat from Tollefson Family Pork, holding down the northwesternmost corner of the big Lyndale Avenue Minneapolis Farmers Market since 1986 or 1987—no one actually remembers, say the Tollefsons. Dan Tollefson showed up with his unique, all-natural pork one morning, kids in tow, and the rest is juicy, peppery, edible history.
“For 30 years, our ‘breakfast brat’ has been the number one seller by far,” explains Ricky Tollefson, one of Dan’s sons. “It’s basically our pork patty mix—fresh pork, black pepper, plain, good. People just call it a breakfast brat because they always have it for breakfast.”
Tollefson Family Pork is currently at the Minneapolis Farmers Market on Saturday and Sunday mornings year-round (the grill is usually hot by 8 am) and at the Bloomington Farmers Market on Saturdays June through Halloween.
A Family Affair
Dan Tollefson founded the farmers’ market star, and today, his sons Scott and Ricky work full time on the project, while daughter Danielle pitches in to help with the online business and son Lucas contributes communications and CEO duties.
They bring only eight hogs a week to market. “We don’t put profit first; we always put sustainability first, with all our decisions,” explains Ricky Tollefson. “Sustainability limits you in some ways and really saves you in other ways. It’s a decision my dad came to a long time ago, and it was the right idea. It’s why we’re around today.”
Early Birds Get the Smoked Chops
The hogs are Duroc-Landrace crosses, renowned for intramuscular fat, which makes a wildly tender and wildly popular smoked pork chop. Only a few dozen are available every weekend, so move fast!
One customer loved the family’s dream so much she worked for free every weekend for years. “Any farmer will tell you: Sometimes you wonder if it’s worth doing; there’s so much work. But the relationships with our customers, they change your life,” Ricky says.