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Fry Me, Bake Me, Love Me: Bacon Mania Sweeps Nation

August 23, 2010

It sizzles, it crackles, and it’s got people going hog wild. Yes, we’re talking about bacon.

Bacon mania is sweeping the country, and Americans are enthusiastically expressing their affection for their favorite cured meat. It may be frowned upon by the healthy-food police, but bacon love is being expressed through events, blogs, strange culinary inventions, and downright wacky products (bacon soap, really?). What is it that makes this bad boy of proteins oh so irresistible?

According to Chef Josh Linder, an instructor of Culinary Arts & Management at The Art Institute of Indianapolis, bacon is a comfort food that stirs fond memories in the minds of eaters.

“Bacon has flavors, textures, and aromas that take us back psychologically to a carefree time or a happy nostalgia,” he says.


Lately, it seems like everything either has bacon on it, in it, or wrapped around it. Of course bacon is a breakfast staple, and is commonly known as a tasty addition to sandwiches and salads, but now some chefs are incorporating bacon in other ways and pushing the boundary of culinary tradition. Bacon cuisines include chicken-fried bacon, the Web-popular Bacon Explosion, and everything from tofu to turkey wrapped in bacon.

Not limited to the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, bacon can also be found in desserts – chocolate-covered bacon, bacon cupcakes, and bacon pudding.

Top it off with a bacon martini, also known as a Bacotini, and you can consume bacon throughout an entire day.

Linder and his culinary students even cooked up their own Bacon-Egg Ice Cream, an eggy cream infused with bacon and topped with strawberry jam. Served with a waffle cone crisp, the dessert mimicked a breakfast of bacon, eggs, waffles, toast, and jam.

Linder says the number of recipes using bacon just shows how versatile the meat is.

“Bacon is a versatile ingredient due to its ability to be soft or crisp, smoky or neutral, sweet or peppery, and a myriad of other combinations,” he explains. “It can be the main item in a meal or an accompaniment as well as the garnish in many cases.”

Considered a nutritional no-no, bacon is often blasted for its fat and sodium content, but Linder says bacon can be part of a health diet.

“The key, as always, is moderation,” he says. “Never relying too heavily on bacon in our total diet is a means to simply enjoying it for its merits.”


In addition to what’s put on the plate, bacon love is also expressed through novelties such as bacon bandages, bacon lip balm, and bacon floss, to name a few.

And for those who don’t think bacon is the new black, check out Katy Perry. The singer/pop star revealed to Q magazine that she intends to pose in a bikini made completely of bacon for the cover of her next album.


It seems bacon fandom knows no bounds. None of it surprises Heather Lauer, blogger and author of Bacon: A Love Story. She knows a thing or two about the powerful pull of the pork, saying there are several factors contributing to bacon mania.

“Whether it’s because of the economy or the locavore movement or a variety of other factors, more people are cooking at home these days and naturally any good home-cooked breakfast involves bacon,” Lauer offers. “Additionally, you can’t watch the Food Network for more than an hour without hearing at least one mention of bacon – many chefs will admit that bacon is their secret weapon in the kitchen and Food Network personalities are no different.”

Lauer also says that fast-food marketers have noticed the trend, too, and almost every major chain has at least one bacon-centric ad running on TV.

A bacon lover since childhood, Lauer started the blog Bacon Unwrapped in 2005 to celebrate all things bacon. Her book followed a couple years later. The blog originally started as a joke, but Lauer soon discovered a worldwide bacon community on the Internet. She also interacted with fellow bacon connoisseurs in-person while researching for her book.

“I interviewed several dozen people for my book – all around the United States – and every single person I met and interviewed was very gracious with their time,” she shares. “Bacon is clearly a labor of love for them – whether they made bacon as a producer or used it in the kitchen as a chef or blogged about it as a hobby.”


Another member of the Bacon Nation is Jason Mosley, known as Mr. Baconpants.
Mosley launched his Website in 2004 to share his love of bacon. He says the Internet is the main reason bacon fever has spread.

“Bacon Mania really started a couple years ago when the Bacon Explosion barbecue recipe went viral,” he says. “That recipe got international media coverage and people who are not bacon fanatics started to notice what was going on and wanted to join in.”

Mosley says bacon contests and events have also spread the enthusiasm. Bacon is often the featured item at restaurants and bars, and large events, such as the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, are held every year.

Mosley got in on the bacon event planning fad this year by co-organizing Pittsburgh’s only bacon event – Bacon Bash at the Harris Grill, a local restaurant that is known for its “Tuesday Bacon Night.” The bash followed last year’s Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour stop in Pittsburgh. The response to the tour, and the current fascination with bacon, prompted Mosley and the Harris Grill to organize the event. They partnered with Sugardale Foods, who supplied the bacon.

“We live in a health-conscious society and many people feel guilty about eating bacon, but at the Bacon Bash you can eat baskets and baskets of bacon without guilt,” Mosley states.

International Bacon Day, observed the Saturday before Labor Day, gives celebrants from all over the world the opportunity to enjoy bacon as an all-day experience. The unofficial holiday was established in 2004 by a group of students at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Linder says people see the common bond that bacon can create between classes and cultures.

“Whether it is on a BLT sandwich or wrapped around a filet, bacon offers both high-end and simple goodness,” he says

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