Popular wisdom says that “everything’s better with bacon” — and we’d have to agree! But how much do you know about this deliciously salty and crunchy meat that’s made its way from breakfast to every other meal of the day?
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the fascinating history, myriad culinary applications, and appearance in pop culture.
Along the way, you’ll pick up plenty of interesting facts about bacon to roll out at your next trivia night, so let’s jump right in.
1. Bacon’s Origins Are In Meat Preservation
Before the relatively modern development of refrigeration, food was prepared in one of two ways: Using fresh, seasonal ingredients, or through preservation.
Indeed, bacon is one of the oldest salt-cured meats. Salt has a double action in the preservation of meat, simultaneously drawing out the water that could be a breeding ground for spoilage and preventing the development of bad microbes with its unique chemical properties.
Add a bit of air-drying after this step, and you have bacon’s signature salty, concentrated flavor in both traditional and cottage bacon.
2. Bacon Was A Staple Food In Europe
Owing to the preservative qualities mentioned above, in combination with pigs’ relatively small land requirements compared to other meat-producing animals, bacon was a major dietary component of the European peasantry for generations.
Regional varieties of bacon, differentiated by the cuts used, their spicing, and their preservation steps, became widespread and are still present in today’s food cultures. Additionally, the long storage life of bacon made it an internationally traded commodity even prior to the advent of refrigeration.
3. Bacon Mania Is A Real Thing
Interest in bacon and bacon-related products seemed to reach a fever pitch by the end of the 2000s, culminating in what major news outlets began to call “Bacon Mania”.
In part a response to the high-protein diets of the 1990s, bacon was amplified by the early days of social media to become a nationwide phenomena — appearing in everything from breakfasts, to fast food menus, to bacon-flavored products of every variety. Even today, bacon’s status as a pop culture icon is undisputed in the United States and Canada.
4. There’s A Dish Called the “Bacon Explosion”
Far from being a traditional bacon recipe, the aptly named “Bacon Explosion” is a creation of the internet age. Debuted as a creation of the guys at BBQ Addicts, it’s a shamelessly indulgent combination of Italian sausage fully wrapped in bacon and cold smoked for hours at a low temperature.
An incredibly pork-centric barbecue novelty with a lovely rolled presentation. You’ll definitely want some classic barbecue sides to serve it with, as the recipe itself is all meat, all the way.
5. American Bacon Comes In Five Styles
All bacon may be equally delicious, but it’s certainly not produced identically. Depending on the thickness and style of cut, you’ll find five major styles of bacon sold in the United States: Regular slice, thin slice, thick slice, ends and pieces, and slab (note it doesn’t include UK versions like Cottage Bacon).
Each of the sliced bacon varieties is cut from a slab, while the ends and pieces are often sold as a seasoning or to be rendered into fat for traditional European dishes.
Additionally, you’ll find bacon available in nitrate-free, organic, and all natural varieties in each of the five styles.
6. You Can Sign Up for A Bacon of the Month Club
Bacon’s growing popularity has done wonders for its visibility, and greatly increased the variety of bacon products available to consumers today. Case in point: The existence of Bacon of the Month clubs.
Sign up for a monthly subscription like Bacon Freak, and you’ll receive carefully curated packs of the highest-quality bacon delivered to your doorstep each month.
As if that wasn’t enough, most bacon clubs offer the option of adding on other bacon-centric goods, including t-shirts to show your true love of bacon.
7. Bacon Isn’t Good For Your Health…
Now for the bad news: Bacon is almost definitely not good for your health. Harvard University recommends cutting it, as well as other red meats, almost entirely out of your diet, and the American Heart Association echoes that advice – and that’s even if it meets standards for some “healthy” diets like keto or vegan / tempeh / turkey.
The culprit seems to be bacon’s extremely high saturated fat and salt contents — both of which are dangerous for heart health when consumed immoderately.
If you’re like us and can’t bear to leave bacon out of your life, consider cutting back on your serving sizes. And be sure to follow all safe food handling recommendations.
8. … But There Are Healthy Bacon Alternatives
On the other hand, you could keep many of bacon’s most delicious aspects — its crispy, meaty, and savory qualities — without indulging in its high saturated fat and salt content.
The American Heart Association recommends switching out red meats for turkey bacon or veggie bacon in your breakfasts, as both contain significantly less of bacon’s most dangerous elements. While no cured meat can be a perfectly healthy substitute for bacon, turkey bacon is probably as close as it gets, and tempeh bacon can replicate some of the crispiness.
9. You Can Even Drink Your Bacon
True bacon freaks don’t even have to content themselves with just eating their favorite snack — they can drink it, too. Thanks to alcohol’s solvent properties, it makes a wonderful (if odd) vehicle for bacon’s distinctive flavor.
You can either buy a pre-made bacon spirit like Heritage Distilling’s Bacon Vodka, or try your hand at making a bacon vodka at home:
10. Bacon Can Even Be A Dessert
Bacon isn’t just for breakfast anymore, but it’s not even just a savory snack. Intrepid culinarians have stretched bacon’s possibilities to the limit, indulging in the doubly indulgent sugar and bacon combo for dessert, too!
From Maple Bacon Crunch Ice Cream to Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes, anyone with a sweet tooth and a love for bacon is sure to find a dish to satisfy their cravings. Our favorite bacon dessert, though, has to be Voodoo Donuts’ Maple Bacon Donut, seen in the following video:
That’s all! Be sure to read more about breakfast meat facts (and alternatives to breakfast meats!) and how to cook bacon well or on a skillet.
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