56 ;e Costco Connection AUGUST 2014
By Hana Medina
YEARS AGO, I discovered a new favorite treat:
a maple bacon cupcake. Bacon for dessert?
I was a pioneer. But these days, diverse bacon
celebrations are no longer unique in American
culture. From TV shows like United States of
Bacon (on the Destination America channel)
to restaurant menus sporting unconventional
dishes (bacon ice cream!), from bacon-flavored vodka (too far?) to bacon-centered
food festivals, it seems that America has lost
its mind over these strips of goodness.
This phenomenon, referred to as “bacon
mania” (seriously—Google it), even has its
own holiday: International Bacon Day, which
falls on the Saturday before Labor Day
(August 30 this year). Celebrations are usually focused on bacon consumption, and you
may even find a bacon special or three in
your local restaurant scene.
So why are people suddenly bacon-crazed?
“For many people, bacon is nostalgia. We
remember it fondly as a special breakfast treat
as children, or maybe the juicy deliciousness
of a summertime BLT when tomatoes are
ripe,” says Heather Lauer, author and blogger
at Bacon Unwrapped ( baconunwrapped.com).
“The basics of bacon are what keep us coming
back for more: It’s that magical combination
of sweet and salty flavors.”
That magical taste has some scientific
explanations. Pork naturally contains
umami (meaning “pleasant savory taste” in
Japanese), thought to be the fifth taste sensation (the others are sweet, salty, sour and
bitter). Umami imparts a depth of flavor to
many dishes, and bacon’s versatility lends
itself well to just about any meal.
Hormel, a Costco supplier that’s been
producing bacon since 1891, has been surprised by the upward trend in bacon sales.
Paul Atwater, senior customer executive for
Hormel, says, “For a retail category that is well
over a century old, the spike we’ve seen in
sales over the last three years has been truly
remarkable.” Atwater says that statistics indicate that more than seven out of 10 American
households buy bacon at least once a month.
To serve the growing demand for bacon,
many establishments have added unique bacon
dishes to their menus, while other eateries
entirely dedicated to bacon are popping up. One
is a popular San Francisco café and food truck
business, aptly named Bacon Bacon.
Owner and Costco member Jim Angelus
says there’s a bacon dish on his menu for just
about everyone. Popular items include the
classic bacon burger, a chicken sandwich (its
coating consists of panko and “bacon dust”—
cooked bacon ground with a spice grinder),
root beer floats sprinkled with chocolate-cov-ered bacon and the simple “bacon bouquet”
(bacon strips wrapped in paper).
“I didn’t want to be the novelty bacon
truck guy, so it was really important that I had
a sandwich [and other items] that everyone
would want to come back for,” Angelus says.
But bacon has also moved beyond consumption; kitschy bacon items (e.g., bacon-shaped adhesive bandages, bacon-flavored
floss, bacon attire) can be found in almost any
form. Atwater, Lauer and Angelus all agree that
the rise in social media has had a lot to do with
the rise in bacon novelty gear. “The ability to
have a national dialogue with bacon lovers
across the country via social media has fueled a
passion that Americans have always had for this
perfect meat form,” Lauer says.
Bacon has even ventured into the arts:
Hormel sponsored the first annual International Bacon Film Fest in 2013. Contestants
entered shorts that showcased their love of
the meat. The winner, Michael Cameneti,
And while some credit the millennial
generation for kitschy bacon products, many
agree that there’s no specific demographic for
bacon consumption. Angelus says people of
all ages enjoy his fare. And Lauer agrees:
“Unless you can’t eat it for dietary or religious
reasons, bacon is for everyone and that’s what
makes it so great!”
However you slice it, bacon affords endless possibilities. While it’s not a healthy
option for every meal, don’t be afraid to
expand your bacon prowess: Experiment!
Either way, you’ll wind up delighting your
taste buds. C
The Costco Connection
Find bacon at warehouses and Costco.com,
including Kirkland Signature™ varieties, and
Kirkland Signature Bacon Crumbles.
In our digital editions
Click here to watch a winner in
the International Bacon Film Fest.
(See page 12 for details.)