The food industry has discovered bacon, not that pork producers didn't know about its value before; but the latest food trends are boosting demand for what was once just a breakfast treat.
The food industry is a fickle buyer. One month you might find quinoa is the hit of the dinner plate, the next month it's T-Bone steaks. However over the past few years there's a new standard that's been making its way into more recipes and meal "day parts" than ever before: Bacon.
And while there may be imitators out there with their other approaches to this cured treat using other kinds of meat, the aficionados of the food world like their bacon from pigs.
We've rounded up a few interesting news items that have come across our desk in the past couple of weeks to take a look at bacon. And of course during this peak of the grilling season, you'll find bacon is finding its way into a number of dishes.
For the Fourth of July, grillers are talking about wrapping bacon around other traditional foods. In a July Fourth holiday grilling round up Joe Songer at al.com - an Alabama website that serves a number of the state's newspapers - the top dish is bacon-wrapped brats and dogs. There's growing interest in new ways to use bacon to add flavor. As Jim Gaffigan, the comedian, once noted: "Who would know what a water chestnut is without bacon?"
Bacon is such a hot item that even in Miami, known for its trimmed and tanned bodies on South Beach, they're turning to bacon. For the July Fourth holiday weekend the city is holding its first-ever Bacon Beach Bash at Nikki Beach. The story in the MiamiNewTimes website notes that more than 50 dishes will be on hand for weekend beach revelers that feature bacon. Party-goers will be able to sample everything from bacon deviled eggs to bacon corn chowder. It's an interesting look at the "bacon" culture mashup with the Miami beach culture.
This may be a bit over the top, but this week news hit about the ultimate low-carb bun - it's made from bacon. The idea, which appeared at Grilling.com - the site where Kingsford charcoal tells its story and offers tips and recipes - has gotten plenty of attention. Check out the link for how to actually make the "bun" but let's just say the writer says it is made from "approximately 3 pounds of bacon." Need we say more?
If you're planning on making a bacon bun you might need a lot of bacon, and what better place to start than a bacon club? We're not talking about a sandwich here, but a promotional idea from Farmland Foods which has created a Bacon Club so bacon lovers can connect. The folks at the New York Times note the idea is a way companies and marketers work to capitalize on a trend. We wonder if they have a secret handshake.
Over on the food service side, fast food and fast-casual restaurants have also been working to maximize bacon-ness in their foods. Wendy's is creating a stir by bringing back the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger and the Pretzel Pub Chicken sandwiches, which both feature bacon. But the company wants to do more. According to a Columbus Business Journal article, the company is also reviving its #PretzelLoveSongs social media campaign where customers tweet lyrics and songsters like Boys II Men and Jon Secada will make them into songs. Remember, that bacon is a key ingredient in those sandwiches - even though the pretzel bun is pretty tasty too.
And to wrap up this bacon coverage, and offer a bonus sixth news item, we offer a little "mark your calendar" note. National Bacon Day is August 30. It's actually always the Saturday before Labor Day, so seek out those bacon recipes and find your own special way to celebrate.
Of course, as pork producers you celebrate all types of pork products from lean chops to excellent roasts to the BBQ world's favorite pulled pork. It's just that right now bacon has taken on star status, and that can't hurt demand.