Everything You Need to Read About Bacon
Essential articles and books about bacon—a baconography, if you will
It’s impractical to eat bacon at every hour of the day. On a train or bus, you run a high risk of incurring your fellow commuters’ jealous wrath; in bed, fat-drenched sheets are only amusing for so long; and jamming down rashers on the toilet just seems creepy.
You can, however, read about the pig’s most perfect expression of deliciousness any darned place you’d care to. Here is Extra Crispy’s canon of bacon (mmmm...bacon cannon) literature, from reports, how-tos, and essays to full-on cookbooks spanning the past three decades of our nation’s collective pig-out. We will take no responsibility for your greasy Kindle.
On the Roots of Bacon Mania
"Bacon Plays a Subtle Yet Haunting Culinary Role"
Florence Fabricant for The New York Times (January 1986)
Flo Fab is always the first to any flavor party, so it’s no surprise that she woke up and smelled the bacon renaissance a decade-plus before the rest of food media else caught on. Come for the cultural awakening, stay for the bacon and new potatoes recipe.
Key quote: “Bacon is to meat as onions are to vegetables: a savory workhorse ingredient that lends an underpinning of hauntingly rich and complex flavor to a dish, frequently without celebration or menu credit.”
A Bacon Quest at the Turn of the 21st Century
"The Smoky Trail to a Great Bacon"
R.W. Apple for The New York Times (February 2000)
The late Johnny Apple trekked the land in pursuit of culinary pleasure with more gusto than any one—or ten—humans ever has. On a sub-zero day at the dawn of the 21st century, he found pure pork-belly nirvana at Nueske's Hillcrest Farm in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and brought readers along for the ride.
Key quote: “[A]nd the high-protein, sugar-busting diet faddists positively applaud bacon binges. Fatty, allegedly artery-clogging bacon, which a few years ago stood at the head of the diet cops' hate list, is suddenly back in fashion.”
Meeting Bacon’s Actual Biggest Fan
Pete Wells for Food & Wine (May 2003)
Before he wielded the critic’s gavel at The New York Times, reformed vegetarian Pete Wells embarked on a journey deep into the heart of ham country in the company of a man who insisted upon being addressed as “Captain Bacon.” He made it home, lightly brimstone-scented, and won a James Beard Award for his efforts.
Key quote: “Somewhere in these streaky bands of pig meat is a powerful sorcery that can make a grown man dance around a cardboard box, corrupt a pure-minded young vegetarian and transform the son of an Orthodox Jew into Captain Bacon."
How to Make the Best-Ever Bacon
Corby Kummer for The Atlantic (November 2005)
Veteran food writer Corby Kummer blind-tasted a range of bacons at the dawn of the artisanal bacon boom and queried their auteurs about their method for making them taste so freaking magical.
Key quote: “The cult—and bacon love is still at the cult stage—won't come as a surprise to people who have looked for artisan-cured bacon over the years, although even they will be pleased by the recent improvements and wider selection. To anyone still buying supermarket bacon, the difference in flavor will be remarkable.”
A Travel to the Weird Heart of Bacon Mania
Sarah Hepola for Salon (July 2008)
At the apex of the bacon craze, Sarah Hepola rooted deep to find the reasons behind our nation’s collective squee over cured pork belly. She came up with seven, including “America.”
Key quote: “It was through links to the bacon bra that I stumbled into a zany online world of bacon-related wackiness. Bacon clothing, bacon accessories, bacon jewelry, bacon toilet paper. The vegans may get their own bestselling cookbook, the yuppies may get their raw organic walnut oil at Whole Foods, but carnivores have turned bacon into something more than mere food; it has become a fashion statement.”
Is There a Bacon Bubble?
"Bacon is dead! Long live bacon!"
Peter Meehan for Salon (July 2008)
Pre-Lucky Peach, Peter Meehan tried his level best to pinpoint the moment when the bacon bubble might finally burst and spare us all the indignity of gratuitous baconalia such as celebrity chef-branded zero-calorie bacon-flavored spray.
Key quote: “That bacon spray is the embodiment of what bugs me about bacon these days, like a physical incarnation of the trite pro-bacon blanket sentiments that people rarely seem to express about other meats. (Ever heard anybody say, ‘Everything tastes better with goat?’ Exactly.)”
Competitive Bacon-ators Tell All
"Bacon Explosion: The BBQ Sausage Recipe of all Recipes"
Jason Day and Aaron Chronister for BBQ Addicts (December 2008)
When the bacognoscenti come together, good things happen. Competitive barbecue veterans Jason Day and Aaron Chronister run BBQAddicts.com and when they were approached by the Bacon Today team to create a fire-centric bacon recipe, they blew up the internet.
Key quote: “Of course I have plenty of great uses for bacon in a barbecue pit, but the longer I thought about it, the more I wanted to step it up a notch and clog a few arteries for those guys. Behold, BACON EXPLOSION!!!”
"The Bacon Backlash"
Katy MacLaughlin for the Wall Street Journal (October 2010)
Several years into the nation’s bacon takeover Wall Street Journal reporter Katy MacLaughlin sought respite from the porky onslaught. She sought out similarly weary-tongued chefs to save her/us.
Key quote: “We are in the midst of a bacon bubble—and a growing number of chefs (some of whom quietly admit they helped inflate the bubble to begin with) say it's about to pop. Bacon had a good run, but now it has gone flabby—used too much and too often, it's lost its novelty and coated fine dining with a ubiquitous veneer of porky grease.”
On Reaching Peak Bacon
"Why Won’t Bacon Go Away?"
Josh Ozersky for Time.com (December 2012)
The late and sorely missed food writer Josh Ozersky loved bacon so much he once wrote a poem about it. Even he wished for it to take a hiatus.
Key quote: “I’m not going to tell you that I know the secret of bacon’s talismanic power. Clearly, I don’t since I keep underestimating it. But I have a few suspicions. One has to do with taste, one has to do with coolness, and one has to do with manhood.”
How Bacon Helped Beat the Nazis
"Turning Bacon Into Bombs: The American Fat Salvage Committee"
Adee Braun for The Atlantic (April 2014)
Just when it seems as if our country was about to drown in the greasy seas of the baconpocalypse, food history writer Adee Braun tossed out a life raft in the form of a deep dig on bacon’s role in saving the American way of life.
Key quote: “It turns out that bacon fat is good for more than sprucing up bitter greens—it’s also pretty good for making bombs. And during World War II, handing over cooking fat to the government was doing your patriotic duty.”
The Way We Sell Bacon, Now and Then
"A History of Bacon Advertising"
Bacon Babe for Bacon Today (June 2014)
Bacon Today writer “Bacon Babe” scoured decades of vintage ads and found ample evidence that America was, is, and ever shall be in a sizzling-hot love affair with bacon.
Key quote: “If there’s one thing that vintage bacon ads tell us, it’s that not much has really changed regarding America’s favorite meat candy. Bacon is shown as a campfire favorite, a hangover helper, the duct tape of food, and as something that can be added to just about any other food to make it better.”
The Economic Impact of Bacon
"The Bacon Boom Was Not an Accident"
David Sax for Bloomberg (November 2014)
Not to detract anything from the legitimate deliciousness of bacon, but as journalist David Sax discovered, its popularity (and ubiquity) didn’t just trot in outta nowhere.
Key quote: “In terms of economic impact, nothing beats bacon. While most food trends tend to trickle down from the gourmet market into the mouths of mass consumers, that wasn’t the case with bacon. Bacon mania was sparked not in the kitchens of fancy restaurants in New York or Chicago, but in the pork industry’s humble marketing offices in Iowa, where people like Joe Leathers engineered a turnaround for an underappreciated cut of pig.”
Health Officials vs. Bacon, Who Will Win?
"The Day Bacon Died"
Jonathan West for WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio (October 2015)
A World Health Organization report linked bacon and other processed meats to cancer. Essayist David West explained why he is so willing to take the risk.
Key quote: “You’re not just listening to some random guy who keeps a jar of bacon fat in his fridge because it’s the only reasonable seasoning for a platter of roasted vegetables. I’m what the kids nowadays call your basic Meat Butler.”
Why Some People Will Actually Die for Bacon
"If Bacon Is So Bad, I Don’t Want to Live"
Liesl Schillinger for the Los Angeles Times (November 2015)
Can we officially call this nitrate nihilism? Critic and writer Liesl Schillinger wrote gorgeously, if tragically, of her willingness to trade longevity for luscious bacon.
Key quote: “Last week, I salivated as I beheld a photograph illustrating a newspaper article about the newest villain in the rogues' gallery of foods suspected of colluding in human destruction. The photo showed a frieze of sizzling strips of bacon, caramelized crispy brown at their edges, striped russet and tawny gold down their curling lengths. I wished the picture had been scratch-and-sniff.”
The Bacon Revival
"Are We Living in a Post-Bacon World?"
Matt Gross for Extra Crispy (June 2016)
Thirty years after Florence Fabricant heralded the bacon renaissance, you’re reading about it on a brand-new site called Extra Crispy. Food writer Matt Gross visited a bar themed around bacon. Buckle in. We’re gonna be here for a while.
Key quote: “Yes, bacon is the color black. It’s the iPhone. It’s a $100 bill. It’s a roll of quarters. It’s quality television. (It’s also crummy television that you watch anyway.) It’s the goddamn weather, so ubiquitous that it’s both beneath notice and yet impossible not to mention, to include, to comment on, to salivate over whether you want to or not. It’s a dad joke. It’s a blow job.”
Books About Bacon
Everything Tastes Better with Bacon: 70 Fabulous Recipes for Every Meal of the Day
By Sara Perry (Chronicle Books, 2002)
Notable recipe: Try-It-You’ll-Like-It-Bacon-Brittle
Seduced by Bacon: Recipes & Lore about America's Favorite Indulgence
By Joanna Pruess with Bob Lape (The Lyons Press, 2006)
Notable recipe: French Apple Tart with Cheddar Cheese Crust & Sweet Brittle Topping
The Bacon Cookbook: More than 150 Recipes from Around the World for Everyone's Favorite Food
James Villas (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007)
Notable recipe: Portuguese Egg and Bacon Pudding
Bacon: A Love Story: A Salty Survey of Everybody's Favorite Meat
By Heather Lauer (William Morrow, 2009)
Notable recipe: Candied Bacon Ice Cream
101 Things to Do with Bacon
By Eliza Cross (Gibbs Smith, 2011)
Notable recipe: Bacon, Egg, and Colby Cheese Quesadillas
Bacon Nation: 125 Irresistible Recipes
Peter Kaminsky and Marie Rama (Workman Publishing Company, 2013)
Notable recipe: Bacon Swizzle Stick
Bacon 24/7: Recipes for Curing, Smoking, and Eating
By E Jane Armstrong and Theresa Gilliam (Countryman Press, 2014)
Notable recipe: Bacon Stuffed French Toast
The Big Book of Bacon: Savory Flirtations, Dalliances, and Indulgences with the Underbelly of the Pig
Jennifer L. S. Pearsall (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014)
Notable recipe: Bacon Choco Pumpkin Pancakes
Bacon Cookbook: 150 Easy Bacon Recipes
Bonnie Scott (self-published, 2015)
Notable recipe: Bacon Brunch Squares
Everyone Loves Bacon
Kelly DiPucchio and Eric Wight (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)
Notable recipe: None. This is a children’s book about bacon, anthropomorphized as an egomaniacal celebrity. In case you were at this point still questioning the ubiquity of bacon.