(Devanco Foods, 2021) I have mixed feelings about Mike Ditka. I have no problem with his respectable retirement plan of selling his Da Bears legacy in the form of airport-adjacent restaurants, wine, and beef sticks. I am old enough to have watched the 1985 Bears in total awe, and still consider Ditka's star player, Walter Payton, the greatest (if not the Jordan-esque best) Chicago athlete of all time. I'm too young to really understand Ditka's playing career, but I take people's words for it that he was a bad ass. But I also take people's words that he had, as they say, some racist bones in his body. His right wing politics and bad political takes are certainly Trump-esque (fortunately he wisely has let beef sticks fund his golf leisure, avoiding politics as a career path). And his post-1986, gum hurling coaching career calls into question his gridiron I.Q. (I might have traded my entire draft for Ricky Williams as well, but I like potheads, sympathize with anxiety sufferers, am tickled by avid yoga freaks, and don't know shit about football). All that is to say that weighing the Ditka pros and cons results in one clear adjudication: sure, I'll buy this 99 cent beef stick. The real problem is that I could hardly taste any notable seasoning. Chicago is segregated, violence-plagued, extreme weather plagued, has a history of political corruption, and is haunted by a dangerous police department infected with a living legacy of crippling criminality. But on the flip side, we genuinely respect good meat. Comparing the lowest grade Vienna Beef hot dog to a bland Dodger Dog or a mealy NYC hot dog cart offering is like comparing the finest Swiss milk chocolate to the dusty, flavorless corn-syrup atrocities five year olds exchange in Snoopy boxes on Valentines'. Now I realize meat sticks are not expected to rise to this level (and I further realize that Ditka is a far lesser Chicagoland meat stick-peddler than former Downer's Grove North High School baseball star Randy "Macho Man" Savage, and I further further realize [in 2021 now that Wikipedia exists but not so much for the last thirty years] that Macho Man's dad was former NWA Chicago Division wrestling champ Angelo Poffo and not former Cub Andy Pafko). Still, this beef stick was just not good enough...for a dollar. But I'm OK with it for 99 cents, and thus, remain Ditka agnostic. If I liked or disliked him more, or had more of Adam Sandler's sense of humor, I might be swayed/amused by the phallic folly of the phrase "Ditka's Beef Stick," but alas, I'm getting nothing from it. Da Bears!