Some say a bowl of Wheaties is the breakfast of champions, but if you ask A.J. Jenkins, he’ll tell you it’s the The High and Tight sandwich at “da truck” on South Mathews Avenue.
Derald’s Catering, the popular campus food truck, has been serving up breakfast and lunch since it opened in 1978. The diner-on-wheels has a tradition of being a favorite among Illinois athletes, and some of the most frequent customers are members of the football team, said Eric Seeds, owner of Derald’s Catering.
The tradition is perpetuated by word traveling through the locker room. In the fall of his freshman year, Jenkins tried The Daily Double after hearing Juice Williams’ rave reviews of the breakfast sandwich.
“I fell in love,” Jenkins said.
The wide receiver said he loves the food as well as the convenience, as it’s an easy stop between classes.
Several of Derald’s regulars have had sandwiches named after them, Jenkins included. Most often, these sandwiches are variations of The Colossal, which typically includes double eggs, double sausage, double bacon and double cheese on Texas toast. Many football players add toppings like jelly, mayonnaise or hot sauce, Seeds said.
Jenkin’s sandwich, The High and Tight, is a Colossal with mayonnaise. Martez Wilson, now a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, had The Tez Special named after him, which is a Colossal with Jelly on a croissant. The Juice Special is a Colossal with one egg.
While these sandwiches aren’t on the menu, customers can still order them. One lineman set a record by eating three Colossals in one sitting, Seeds said.
Senior defensive back Tavon Wilson said he really likes breakfast food, so he frequents the truck at least every other day and gets a Daily Double. As a freshman, he heard about Derald’s from some of the older players on the team. After he stopped for a sandwich with former teammate Mikel Leshoure, who now plays for the Detroit Lions, he was hooked.
Many of the football players, like Wilson, have Seeds’ cell phone number, so they’ll call in orders between classes.
While the players’ love for Derald’s is a tradition, the relationship between “da truck” and the team changes each year, Seeds said.
Some years he’ll have more regulars from the team, and other years he’ll have fewer. One year, the wide receivers would jump in the truck and make their own sandwiches. Another year, Seeds added, he had a football player working for him.
Outside of the football team, Seeds said he serves many players from both water polo teams and track teams. Seeds said he likes hiring water polo players to work in the truck because of their work ethic and “high gear.”
Chris Walter, senior on the men’s water polo team, said he’s been ordering from the truck for the last three years.
“The food is awesome … it’s sort of a team tradition,” he said.