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The Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee has partnered with OSI Restaurant Partners, the Tampa, FL-based owner of Outback Steakhouse, on a new promotion on the Facebook social media web site that includes a program to give away a blooming onion appetizer to participants. Coupons are currently being distributed to the first 500,000 people who sign up as fans on Outback's Facebook page.

The onion committee represents 32 onion shippers from the Snake River Valley of southwestern Idaho and Malheur County, Oregon. A number of shippers from the area are major suppliers of the colossal onions sold to Outback Steakhouse that are used to make the restaurant's Bloomin' Onion menu item. As a partner in the new Facebook program, the committee committed funding to OSI Restaurant Partners to be used to increase advertising for the already-popular campaign.

In addition, the "Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Spanish Sweet" logo will be displayed on pages throughout the Facebook coupon claim process, and the Outback Steakhouse holiday season gift card showcases the chain's Bloomin' Onion appetizer.

On Nov. 5, the company began giving away the coupons, which entitle the holders to the free appetizer with the purchase of an entree. Normally, customers pay $6.25 for a Bloomin' Onion, according to Outback's menu. The steakhouse chain's Facebook page gained 525,000 fans during the week of Nov. 28, which put it in eighth place in a ranking of sites gaining the most fans, according to a ranking on Inside Facebook's blog page. However, not all 500,000 coupons had been claimed.

"This is an excellent opportunity to increase consumption of Idaho-Eastern Oregon Spanish sweet onions and develop our brand with the dining public," Sherise Jones, marketing director for the committee, said in a Nov. 30 press release. "Throughout the years, we have worked with Outback on various promotion programs, and this recent campaign seemed to be the perfect fit. Any time we can participate in a venture that could get 500,000 individuals consuming our onions, it's a win-win scenario."

The Idaho-Eastern Oregon onion-growing region is one of America's larger producers, shipping roughly 22,000 semi-truckloads every year.