Talk about pigs: Americans ate 1.1 billion bacon servings during the 12-month period ending April 2014, about 6 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.
New York’s BarBacon is entirely devoted to porky provisions, especially the country’s best bacons, which can be paired with flights of craft beer or bourbon. You can get your bacon to go, as at Bacon Bacon, a popular food truck that roams the San Francisco Bay Area delivering bacon-fried chicken, bacon burgers, and bacon, belly, and butt tacos.
There are dedicated bacon brunches and bacon happy hours, and even a bacon challenge. At Paddy Long’s in Chicago, many have tried (and most have failed) to consume the famous five-pound bacon-wrapped bomb in 45 minutes or less.
Eating bacon doesn’t have to be a sport though. Bacon goes haute at Nashville’s Bound’ry, where it is dehydrated, pulverized, and used as a faux breadcrumb for a fried tomato salad. And it joins forces with another, if improbable, food trend—toast—when paired with puréed peas, mint, and olive oil at Vernick Food & Drink in Philadelphia.
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.