So, what’s the deal with that billboard on U.S. Rt. 33 near The Plains, advertising a “mecca” for meatloaf and strawberry milk in Athens, Ohio?
Well, for starters, the advertised business doesn’t exist as many have come realize in the time since the billboard advertisement went up in mid-October.
John Sammon, an OU alum who lives in Cleveland, told The NEWS late last year that “Margie’s Meatloaf Mecca” was created by he and several OU alum friends last year as a friendly joke on their friend and fellow OU alum Margie Pandora, whom they were preparing to meet for her “bachelor” party in Athens in mid-November (she got married in Columbus the next month).
“Both myself and a group of our friends do marketing for a living so it’s become a little bit of a tradition that we have some fun via marketing with our friends for major events,” Sammon explained.
That group of friends pooled their resources and rented the sign on U.S. Rt. 33, and created a simple website at https://succulentmeatloaf.com/. The fake site offers an unappetizing $2.99 all-you-can-eat meatloaf special with three options – moist, dry, and dryer – and strawberry milk made with strawberry powder mix. It notes that Pandora secured a “payday loan to lease out a building on North Court Street” in Athens to bring meatloaf, crafted from a recipe she found on “aol.com,” to Athens.
“It’s really just stupid; the whole idea is to do something to both harass and honor the person,” Sammon said. “With Margie, Margie loves Athens, and we knew we already had a good group of friends who would meet up in Athens.”
Sammon said that even now in mid-February, people are posting about the fake restaurant concept on social media, to an extent where he and his friends got T-shirts printed with the “Margie’s Meatloaf Mecca” branding, with all proceeds going to the Athens County Food Pantry.
That was not the only intersection with local hero Joe Burrow, whose Heisman Trophy exception speech that talked about poverty in Athens County triggered more than a half-million dollars in donations to the Food Pantry. Not far from the Margie’s Meatloaf billboard on Rt. 33 was a billboard with Burrow’s picture and a message proclaiming “Home of the Heisman,” paid for by LSU Athletics (with the “O” in home shaped like the state of Ohio).
Sammon said Pandora got a good laugh out of the fake website and billboard, and said he and his friends hope area residents did too.
“They (billboard owners) estimated that 15,000 cars drive by that location (billboard) per day,” Sammon said, laughing.