A few weeks ago, as she was showing off her newly crocheted piece of bacon, my cousin proclaimed:'Bacon: It's the New Cupcake.' As you may have noticed, cupcakes have been a huge trend in recent years. But my cousin was right. Lately, those adorable morsels (whose popularity is most commonly credited by Magnolia Bakery's appearance on Sex and the City) seem to be garnering some competition in our quest for quirky culinary obsessions.
It started innocently enough. My first introduction to out-of-the-box bacon was Vosge's Mo's Bacon Bar , and most connoisseurs of the trend agree that this subtly infused chocolate bar was the gateway drug to the bacon craze. After that, I began to notice that bacon was having a much greater presence in the foodie sphere. But it didn't seem that strange because it was bacon as bacon should be. You know, like on burgers, breakfasts and BLTs. There were informative discussions on how to best cook bacon or even clubs where bacon lovers could unite (yes,there is more than one ) that are, while a bit eccentric, perfectly fine, right?
(more bacon after the jump!)
But then the trend started to mutate. Clearly inspired by the beloved combo of sweet-and-salty (by way of chocolate with nuts and salted caramels), baconiers dared to reverse it and thus the strain of salty-and-sweet was born. Recipes for things like bacon with a citrus glaze, candied salted bacon, bacon peanut brittle and chocolate covered bacon started infiltrating my food blogs. Even celebrities were speaking for the cause, like Christina Hendricks in her interview with Esquire.
I thought it would end there, but no! Bacon novelties were popping up everywhere from the crafting community to the gag market and yes, even to the fashion world . And don't even get me started on the existence of this :
But, while I could stand strong in the face of all these shenanigans, for some reason it was this article devoted entirely to a man who borrowed a book from the library that had a piece of bacon in it being used as a bookmark that finally pushed me over the edge. I finally had to come to terms with this fad and question why bacon, goddamnit?
I've come up with the following reasons:
- It's only natural to crave something salty after you eat something sweet. (I can't be the only one who grabs a bag of chips along with the candy bar she's buying to fulfill her sugar craving.) Cupcakes have been all the rage for so long now that our teeth are tingling and we want a craze to counteract all that sugar. So, what's something salty and crispy that has potential that everyone loves? Why, bacon of course.
- Somewhere some guy got sick of all this frilly cupcake crap. Let's face it, cupcakes are extremely girly. They're teeny and cute and colorful and sugary and ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod. All of these cupcake bakeries are decorated to make you feel like you stepped into a dollhouse and have signs written in calligraphy and package their goods in these darling little boxes. It would make sense that some chef jacked up on testosterone decided to fight back one day. So, what's something manly and hearty and oh-so-Amurrican? Why, bacon of course.
- As with every trend piece, it traces back to The Economy. Dessert, in general, is an indulgence and, especially with the craze bumping their prices up to $4 a pop, cupcakes are a luxury. We're seeing a resistance to decadence in all facets of life, either out of necessity or trendiness. And, while it's ironic that a high-end culture like the foodie community would attempt to be &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;of the people,&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot; they're attempting to tap into what us regular folk want and that's all this 'frugalista' crap. (Although, of course, by making it a trend they're consequentially altering it's plebian standing.) So, what's something cheap, rustic and comforting in its commonality? Why, bacon of course.
And there you have it. Now, while I won't be embracing the bacon trend anytime soon, and am anxiously anticipating a new buzzfood (carob, anyone?), I do take some comfort in at least coming to terms with the logistics behind bacon taking over my life. In the meantime I think I'll just hang out to the tail ends of the cupcake craze. -Celeste
Photo courtesy of Serious Eats