BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.–The Texas Christian University football team is scheduled to participate in the first half of the 55th Beef Bowl at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Beverly Hills, a tradition older than all but five current bowl games.
The Beef Bowl was conceived in 1956 by Richard N. Frank, shortly after he became Lawry’s president, out of a desire “to honor the Big Ten and Pac-10 teams as champions of their conferences,” he told City News Service in a 2009 interview.
“We had no idea that it would ever turn out to be the kind of event it is now,” said Frank, now the company’s chairman, calling it “the best marketing project that we have.”
Older than all but the Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sugar and Sun bowls, the Beef Bowl was called “the best bowl game tradition” by The Sporting News in 2005. Rose Bowl officials call their association with Lawry’s the longest historical bowl-corporate tie-in.
It has continued despite the lack of a contract with the Tournament of Roses Association, which conducts the Rose Bowl, according to Richard R. Frank, president and chief executive officer of Lawry’s Restaurants Inc., and the son of Richard N. Frank.
The Beef Bowl “is not about what team eats the most,” but “about the players having a great time, enjoying a great meal in great surroundings,” Richard R. Frank said in a 2009 interview.
Lawry’s tried to keep track of which team ate the most back in the 1960s after a public relations firm had initiated a prime rib eating contest that quantified each team’s appetites at their respective events.
“For a period of time, it turned out to be a rather accurate predictor of who would win the Rose Bowl game,” the younger Frank said.
“It got out of hand (by the early 1970s) and we temporarily changed the name to the ‘Beef Scrimmage’ because it wasn’t about the event or the tradition, and it had become kind of a feeding frenzy. That’s what people focused on and we said, ‘That’s not right.’”
Now when there is a question about how much prime rib is eaten “someone will pull a number out of the air,” the younger Frank said.
Beef Bowl attendees are allowed seconds “and that’s where we try to draw the line, though from time to time there’s been a player or two who’s tried to get around that rule,” he said.
“For instance, the larger players–the linemen–ask the defensive backs to order second helpings for them.”
Wisconsin, TCU’s opponent in the Rose Bowl New Year’s Day, is scheduled to participate in the Beef Bowl Tuesday.