- Food and Cooking
What is bacon?: Redefining our favorite meat byproduct.
If you can't tell from the above picture, bacon is my favorite food group. (And trust me,...it is a food group -- see picture on right.) It's succulent, salty, crispy, hearty and sometimes sweet taste have the ability to invoke primal urges from the depths of my large intestine. Like a dog, I salivate at even the thought of biting into cold left overs containing that reddish brown goodness. Yet, unlike a dog this is not a conditioned response, it is simply providence. Bacon is bliss.
For the uninformed, below I have provided a brief history of this delectable foodstuff from its humble beginnings to its worldwide distribution and appreciation. And for the uninitiated, I have provided an introduction to the burgeoning bacon subculture taking root around the world. Subculture?......that's right kiddies, bacon is moving out of the frying pan and into spotlight (for further curing of course). Please take time to observe some of the best bacon-inspired innovations ranging from bacon soap to the bacon coffin.
A Brief History of Bacon
Although it is difficult to say exactly when the first strip of bacon was made and or consumed, references to bacon-like foods pop-up throughout history. As far back as 1300 BC, it is known that Romans ate strips of boiled pig called petaso. The usage of the term "bacon" itself can be traced well into the 16th century where it seems to have had a French/Germanic origin. In fact, the middle English word "bacon" or "bacoun" was often used to refer to any part of the pig. Thus making pork and bacon both synonymous and delicious.
It wasn't until the 1920s that the pre-packaged strips of bacon that we know and love today became a popular staple on every American breakfast, lunch and dinner table. The Oscar Meyer company was one of if not the first company to package bacon strips into easy to cook/easy to use packets. Hence withing a few short years, the definition of bacon had narrowed to the following: thinly sliced meat from the sides, belly or back of a pig that have been either cured or smoked.
From here on out, bacon's popularity exploded. Bacon strips were incorporated into deli sandwiches (i.e.the BLT), burgers, and even the occasional salad. Yet as the next segment will demonstrate, our fascination with bacon (our baconation) has taken on a more lurid almost obsessive tone. To see more on the history of bacon see article here.
The Bacon of Tomorrow
To reiterate, bacon is awesome, so awesome that it has almost taken on a life of its own. Observe the first listing on our list of amazing bacon innovations.
A bakery where bacon is the central ingredient...you bet it exists. Right here in my backyard of NYC, in the infamous Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, you will find Baconery -- one of the few bacon-based bakeries in the world. This surprising little eatery has some of the most original and tasty treats featuring tasty bits of bacon. Try one of their chocolate covered bacon strip treats with you choice of topping or indulge in one of their bacon marshmallow bars. I personally found their bacon brownies to be mmm...mmmm...diabetic coma inducing. Below I have provided a little feast for the eyes to whet your appetite.
Baconery Mini Assortment ---
Cookies and Cream Bacon ---
White Chocolate Bacon Pretzels ---
Bacon Reality Show:
Next on our list is something vegetarians probably see in their nightmares. Justin Esch and Dave Lefkow, founders and current owners of J&D's Foods, have teamed up with LMNO productions to produce a bacon reality show. Well...let me clarify...a show about their company which happens to make anything and everything that can be made out of bacon (this includes baconnaise, bacon salt, bacon lip balm, and bacon-flavored mmmmveleopes).
Ok, even I'll admit this one's a little too far off the deep end. Wanting to smell like bacon is a sign of mental anguish. Moreover, there's a strong chance of attracting the neighborhood pitbull or grizzly bear (depending on where you live). Nonetheless Archie & McPhee, one of the web's premier stores for strange toys, gifts and novelties since 1983, is bringing it to a shower stall near you. If anyone's tried this product tell me what its like...but...you know...from a distance.
The Bacon Coffin:
So to cap off our exploration and exploitation of bacon, pigs and our arteries in general; I have another innovation by the bacon brothers Justin Esch and Dave Lefkow. As you lie on your deathbed slowly contemplating the overarching themes of your life...like maybe your addiction to red meat; you can now rest in peace knowing that you enjoy an eternal slumber in you very own bacon coffin.
For only $2,999.99 you get a comfy coffin painted like a giant strip of bacon. On top of that it comes with a bacon air-freshener to deliciously mask the smell of your rotting corpse.