The four friends glanced around nervously. “Are you sure we should be doing this?” one asked.
“I won’t tell if you won’t,” another replied.
“Hey – it’s still legal, you know,” I said. They all nodded, because it was true. There was no law prohibiting the possession and distribution of bacon. We passed the platter and dug in.
That was a few years back, before the bacon boom hit.
Comedian Jim Gaffigan calls bacon “the most beautiful thing on earth.” Stores are selling bacon-laden ketchup, gravy mix, and a mayo concoction called “Baconnaise.” Bacon clubs will send you gourmet selections each month. You can buy bacon jerky, popcorn, pretzels, candy brittle, coffee, chocolate-chip pancake mix – and bacon-flecked lollipops marketed as “Man Bait.”
Yes, there are porky possibilities at happy hour. Order a “bacontini” made with bacon-infused vodka. It’s one of the trendy, new “carnivorous cocktails.”
Maybe you know someone who prefers the stylish look of bacon over its taste. Give that fashion-plate a bacon necktie, wallet, scarf, belt or socks. Manage your schedule with a daily “Bacon Love” calendar.
Bacon makes the perfect hostess gift. The lucky recipient can serve bacon on a platter crafted to look exactly like, well, a platter of bacon. And who wouldn’t love receiving swine-scented candles and room fragrance spray? For daily grooming, choose bacon soap, toothpaste, dental floss and lip balm.
How do we explain this bacon mania?
I tracked down Heather Lauer, author of Bacon: A Love Story: A Salty Survey of Everybody’s Favorite Meat . Faster than you can heat up your griddle, she emailed me: “Humans have been enamored with bacon for thousands of years – it’s an amazingly delicious treat that actually evolved out of a basic need to preserve meat for long term consumption.”
But why now? Lauer credits “the explosion of social networking and the ability to order food products over the Internet.” Add to that the bloggers who cook up new (and sometimes bizarre) recipes; it seems almost everyone is jumping on the bacon bandwagon.
Bacon’s taste is unique, a combination of sweetness, smoke and salt that makes it unmistakable – some say addictive. Lauer agrees, and proclaims this phenomenon a “basic instinctual attraction.” Consider The Sticky Pig, which crafts its own brand of candied bacon and calls the confection “human catnip.”
And that’s the curious thing about an addictive or intoxicating substance: Often, the more scarce it is, the more hungrily we crave it. Today, bacon is everywhere. But when something is everywhere, it might as well be nowhere.
Remember when eating bacon felt dangerous? When the habit was something to hide?
I’m not suggesting a porcine version of Prohibition. It’s fine to partake of bacon wherever, whenever.
But I have a confession to make: Sometimes, I really miss those days when eating bacon felt so good. Because those were the days when its reputation was so bad.
Are you addicted to bacon? Take this quiz and find out.
More from WFAEats:
Bacon A Gateway Meat?
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