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Why is There Bacon in Flippin’ Everything?

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Why is There Bacon in Flippin’ Everything?

About 20 years ago, my then girlfriend had just returned from her grandmother’s house holding two paper shopping bags full of department store Christmas gifts. She pulled out a few dozen clothing and accessory items, all of which held little interest for me. Then she brought out a cellophane-wrapped plate of something that looked like cookies. I responded with the appropriate level of excitement. Before I was unable to pull back the cellophane barrier, she provided a bit of an advisory, “They are breakfast cookies and they have bacon in them.” The notion that there was such a thing as a “breakfast cookie” and that it actually contained bacon was both alluring and subtly repellant. Nevertheless, I tried one (and then another) and immediately understood the sweet, salty, fatty appeal of the bacon-laced cookie.

Just a few years ago I was attending a food trade show in New York and was oddly tickled and moderately disappointed that bacon was being touted as the new “it” ingredient in just about everything. There was bacon salt, bacon mayonnaise, bacon chocolate, “fakin” bacon, bacon doughnuts, and yes, even bacon cookies (although not nearly as good as what I remembered). The food press got a hold of the bacon story early (around 2007) and wringed the life out of it until there was nothing left but a can of grease and a few snarky things to say about bacon being far too trendy. Bloggers and journalists alike called for the death of bacon (or maybe that was death by bacon) and an immediate halt to the growing bacon trend. But bacon doesn’t have ears and bacon only hears the crackle of the hot grease, which sounds a lot like applause.

Over the past 3 years or so, bacon has become, not just trendy, but utterly ubiquitous. You can’t open a menu, walk past a food truck, or even get an ice cream cone without staining your fingers with bacon grease. Bacon is fatty, salty, and aggressive with an appeal that is primal and indulgent. But while there exists a bacon elite, with their bacon of the month clubs, and their heritage-breed smoked bacon (or to take it one step further, there are the pork belly enthusiasts), most of bacons appeal is largely egalitarian and populist.

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

132 comments

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5:19AM PST on Jan 6, 2014

Interesting article although to find the prevalence of bacon around I really have to go and look for it on the internet. There are bacon watches and chocolate dipped bacon but I see little of it present in my daily life. One can even get organic bacon sans nitrates if one is looking for it.
The author mentions:

"it will be more and more difficult to avoid seeing fellow diners ply themselves with every conceivable form of bacon in a veritable orgy of fatty pork products (at least until a good percentage of them collapse due to arterial blockages)."

5:18AM PST on Jan 6, 2014

Somehow, I doubt it. Except for a few strips of bacon once in a while most of my friends don't eat it very often at all but I like the taste of it when I have organic bacon. I have heard of bacon ice cream from the internet, but I have a problem imagining how that would taste. So true, Nessie B.

Shannon B thinks that perhaps bacon should be banned but concedes that could start a riot. Along with banning things like potato chips, soda or pop with tons of HFCS and who knows what else that people eat on the planet. Just don't ban tea or coffee, bacon...or chocolate. I agree with Reade H.

10:44AM PST on Mar 2, 2013

bacon cologne, really? even back in the days when i still ate bacon that would have grossed me out

3:10PM PST on Dec 9, 2012

Yikes!
:P

9:25AM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Sounds like a twist on the marketing of pork being the other white meat...

9:21AM PST on Feb 13, 2012

This just makes me feel sorry for the poor pigs.

5:53PM PST on Feb 11, 2012

Bacon makes me puke. If you want to eat it, kill it yourself you cowards.

12:08PM PST on Jan 29, 2012

Not a bacon eater. I have never tasted the stuff. So well meaning friends of mine presented me with....drum roll..... Kosher bacon salt.
Vegan. Kosher. Kind of oddly addicting. I kept the jar through a couple moves as a kitchen joke.

But I have a theory on the bacon fad. People know deep down that hey should eat more veggies. But to taste buds saturated with sweet and salt and, yes, fat, veggies are too simple, too clean, yes, even boring.
So borrow a trick from old days and add a bit of flesh to your greens or beans.

IF, and that is a huge if, people dropped a quarter to half pound of meat from a meal, replacing it with a couple ounces of stripped fried stuff, there would be a net gain, nutritionally.


I understand that in a homestead, pigs are efficient converters of scrap to food.
But unless Wilbur is in your yard, is the downside of the food, all ethics aside, worth it?

11:56AM PST on Jan 29, 2012

I think this bacon obsession is utterly ridiculous....

12:32AM PST on Jan 28, 2012

Thanks for the article.

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