Talk about pigs: Americans ate 1.1 billion bacon servings during the 12-month period ending April 2014, about six percent more than the previous year, according to market research firm the NPD Group.
We're not just eating more bacon, we're also making better bacon (consider the proliferation of artisanal bacons and chefs curing their own bacon in house) and finding creative ways to enjoy it. There's bacon butter, bacon soda, bacon-infused booze, and bacon ice cream, to name a few inspired iterations.
In short, if you've thought of a way to consume bacon, we guarantee you someone else has, too. Here, an ode to America's bacon mania.
Bacon is always on the menu at this new American café in Long Island City, but diehards show up for the three-course bacon brunch. It kicks off with a trio of bacons: Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon, Dewig’s slab bacon, and Ham I Am! peppered bacon. Diners have their choice of mains like grilled bacon-and-cheese, mac-and-cheese-and-bacon casserole, and Wisconsin breakfast pizza with caramelized onions, ricotta cheese, crème fraîche, and (naturally) bacon. A sweet-and-savory bacon brownie finishes the meal off.
Chef-owner John Reusing describes his Fells Point spot as a bar with a bacon addiction. The low-key neighborhood joint is known for its monthly bacon nights, when offerings might include bacon-wrapped Vidalia onions with bacon onion dip, bacon satays, and bacon Bloody Marys. Even the non-bacon drinks are quirky; the Bee Sting is mixed with mead and cider.
This food truck doles out bacon-accented comfort foods like bacon burgers; bacon fried chicken; and bacon, belly, and butt tacos, plus sweet treats like chocolate-covered bacon and bacon caramel corn. No wonder its Bay Area–wide reach stretches as far north as Larkspur and as far south as Sunnyvale.
Five pounds of ground sausage, pork, and beef wrapped in brown sugar bacon and slow cooked, the bomb is intended to serve a table of six to eight—unless you’re after bragging rights. If you can eat the entire thing in 45 minutes or less, the glory of a Paddy Long’s T-shirt, a place on the wall of fame, and a free meal (the bomb) are yours. Warning: many (89) have tried; only six have succeeded.
Photo: WGN's Chicago's Best
Bacon Cocktail: Grange Restaurant & Bar, Sacramento, CA
Ryan Seng, the adventurous barman at the Citizen Hotel’s Grange, loves to get crafty with his seasonally driven cocktail menu. A crowd favorite? Tusk, a twist on a Boulevardier that pairs bacon-infused vermouth, Angostura bitters, and Buffalo Trace bourbon with a garnish of candied bacon.
There’s something so wrong and yet so right about the bacon-wrapped matzoh balls (also made with rendered bacon fat instead of vegetable oil) at Ilan Hall’s restaurant in downtown L.A. The menu, inspired by the Top Chef winner’s Scottish-Jewish heritage, includes a variety of other cultural mash-ups, like latke and pork belly hash, gefilte fish and chips, and Manischewitz-braised pork belly.
In Boston’s Bay Village, Mike & Patty’s quickly became a neighborhood institution after opening in 2008. A go-to for breakfast and sandwiches, the joint puts a California-style spin on the classic breakfast sandwich: thick-cut bacon, eggs, and cheddar with avocado, red onion, and spicy house mayo on multigrain bread.