Food

7 Bacon Brands to Avoid

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According to numerous surveys, bacon is among the top three most popular breakfast foods in the U.S. The top spot goes to either pancakes or eggs, depending on which survey you choose to believe. However, one thing can be stated with rock-solid certainty: Americans have a longstanding love for bacon. And why wouldn’t we? As comedian Jim Gaffigan reminds us, “Bacon’s the best. Even the frying of bacon sounds like applause.”

If you really want your breakfast guests to stand up and cheer, though, you can’t just serve them any old bacon. While bacon is glorious in and of itself, there are substantially different levels of quality among various brands. You’ll want to choose a high-quality bacon…one that provides a robust, meaty flavor and features a good fat-to-meat ratio, a little smoke, and just the right amount of salt.

We set out to find the bacon brands that fall short of this standard. You’ll want to avoid these brands when you plan your next breakfast menu. (And since no breakfast menu is complete without quality coffee, here is a list of six coffee brands you should never buy.)

To compile this list, 24/7 Wall St. consulted seven different food websites, blogs, and vlogs. We also referenced customer reviews on retail store websites. Since bacon preference is highly subjective, we used an aggregate scoring system to rate the bacon brands that received the most negative ratings among our sources. The results of our survey are divided into two categories: pork and turkey bacon. Prices are listed in the reviews but may vary by store or location.

In the course of our research regarding bacon brands to avoid, we also found some brands that our bacon critics raved about. Some of the top pork bacon brands include Boar’s Head, Applegate, and Peter Luger. Two store brands also scored surprisingly high. Target’s Market Pantry and Costco’s Kirkland Signature bacon both received high praise from the reviewers.

Some of the best-reviewed turkey bacon brands include Applegate, Boar’s Head, Wellshire Farms, and Godshall’s. Two store brands also surprised our critics. Sam’s Choice, available at Walmart, and Aldi’s Fit & Active turkey bacon both scored fairly well.

The brands of pork and turkey bacon that follow did not fare nearly as well, though. The next time you are charged with “bringing home the bacon,” don’t bring home these brands.

Turkey Bacon

Cooked turkey bacon on parchment paper
Source: Elena Veselova / Shutterstock.com
Turkey bacon is never going to be as good as pork bacon.

Food scientists created turkey bacon in the early 1980s as a healthier alternative to pork bacon. It took roughly ten years for it to become a mainstream product. Today, turkey bacon is available in virtually every retail store that sells traditional pork bacon.

Bacon purists loathe the very idea of turkey bacon. In fact, one reviewer in our survey referred to “turkey bacon” as an oxymoron. Authentic bacon comes from a pig’s belly. There is no part of a turkey that produces legitimate bacon. As we noted above, it is the creation of food scientists.

Since turkey bacon was created in a lab rather than on a farm, no one should expect it to match the taste and texture of high-quality pork bacon. Consumers must temper their expectations when they transition from pork to turkey bacon. That is also why we separated these two types of bacon into distinct categories. Comparing turkey and pork bacon just isn’t fair.

One thing that might help is associating turkey bacon’s taste and texture more closely with Canadian bacon than traditional bacon. If you are expecting the taste and crispiness of traditional bacon, you’re in for a big disappointment. Canadian bacon features a more ham-like taste, though. That is closer to the taste profile of many brands of turkey bacon.

Having said that, turkey bacon has come a long way. The brands we noted at the beginning produce quality turkey bacon products. However, these other well-known brands don’t produce turkey bacon worth your grocery dollar.

3. Oscar Mayer

Oscar Mayer turkey bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Oscar Mayer sells more bacon than any other brand, and its lineup includes turkey bacon.
  • Expected Price: $4.49
  • Package Weight: 12 oz

Oscar Mayer Review

Oscar Mayer turkey bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Oscar Mayer’s turkey bacon tastes okay but it is not as healthy as other brands.

Oscar Mayer’s pork bacon received high marks from some of our critics. Others rated it rather low. The end result was a middle-of-the-road score in our survey. However, the brand’s turkey bacon didn’t fare as well.

It should be noted that Oscar Mayer’s turkey bacon didn’t necessarily receive low marks for taste. Several reviewers reported that it actually tastes kind of good.

However, most consumers who opt for turkey instead of pork bacon do so because they believe it is a healthier alternative. Oscar Mayer’s turkey bacon has more calories than other turkey bacon. It also has far more sodium at 170 mg per slice. Sure, that is still far lower than Oscar Mayer’s pork bacon, but if you’re opting for turkey bacon, you will probably want to seek a healthier option.

2. Butterball

Butterball turkey bacon label
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Butterball is synonymous with turkey, so turkey bacon is an obvious addition to the brand.
  • Expected Price: $3.98
  • Package Weight: 12 oz

Butterball Review

Butterball turkey bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Butterball’s turkey bacon received mixed reviews in our survey.

Scores for Butterball turkey bacon were a bit mixed, but the negative outweighed the positive among our reviewers. One reviewer rated it as the worst-tasting turkey bacon on the market. Another compared it to eating a flavorless piece of paper. These might be overstatements, considering that some other reviewers were not nearly as harsh in their critiques.

Still, multiple critics noted the stretchy, almost plastic-like texture of this turkey bacon. That, combined with the disparate reviews regarding the flavor, is enough to convince us to leave this turkey bacon at the grocery store.

1. Jennie-O

Jennie-O turkey bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Jennie-O turkey bacon was eviscerated by our critics.
  • Expected Price: $3.49
  • Package Weight: 12 oz

Jennie-O Review

Jennie-O turkey bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Jennie-O turkey bacon is slimy and unappetizing.

This turkey bacon brand was the clear loser in our survey. The most often-repeated criticism of this turkey bacon was its off-putting slimy texture. When you remove this bacon from the package, it feels as if it is covered with some sort of strange goo. Nothing about it suggests that you should eat it.

Reviewers also noted that the bacon has an overpowering smokey, almost ashy flavor. And, as one customer review stated, “This turkey bacon tastes like leather if cooked in a frying pan and cardboard if microwaved..absolutely no flavor and poor quality turkey.”

Jennie-O is a Jennie-No.

Pork Bacon

Hot fried crispy bacon slices in skillet on wooden background.
Source: LumenSt / iStock via Getty Images
What could be better than hot and crispy fried bacon?

As noted earlier, turkey bacon wasn’t a thing until the 1980s. Traditional pork bacon dates back further than that…a lot further! Records indicate that people were eating bacon as far back as 1500 BCE. Today, more than 3,500 years later, we still love our bacon. These brands don’t provide as much to love as others, though.

4. Wright Brand

Wright Brand Applewood Smoked bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Wright Brand Applewood Smoked Bacon is not worth the price.
  • Expected Price: $8.98
  • Package Weight: 1.5 lb

Wright Brand Review

Wright Brand Hickory Smoked bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Wright Brand bacon is an okay bacon…nothing less, but also nothing more.

Wright Brand bacon is a perfectly inoffensive bacon. However, it is also a wholly unremarkable product. The best word to describe it might be “forgettable.” You won’t remember this bacon, either for its positive or negative qualities.

One reviewer noted that, while it is an acceptable bacon, it lacks a robust bacon flavor. It also shrinks more than other comparable bacon brands while cooking.

At nearly nine bucks for a pound and a half of bacon, consumers can and should expect more than Wright Brand delivers.

3. Smithfield

Smithfield Hometown Original bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Smithfield Hometown Original Bacon is one of the top-selling bacon brands in the U.S.
  • Expected Price: $4.98
  • Package Weight: 16 oz

Smithfield Review

Smithfield Hometown Original bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Smithfield Hometown Original Bacon shrinks significantly during cooking.

Smithfield is one of the top-selling bacon brands in the U.S., so you could reasonably expect to be “wowed” by this bacon. Our reviewers certainly were not, though.

One described Smithfield’s Hometown Original Bacon as a “thin, vaguely disappointing affair.” These thin slices reduce even further while cooking, leaving you with tiny strips that will certainly not satisfy a hungry breakfast connoisseur. One reviewer described them as, “wispy, chip-like wafer[s] of salty meat.”

Multiple critics also noted the extraordinary amount of grease that results from cooking this bacon. Not surprisingly, Smithfield bacon has a rather high fat content. As one reviewer noted, this leaves you with “meat that’s swimming in fat.”

Smithfield bacon also contains unhealthy nitrates. All pork bacon is an indulgence rather than a healthy choice, but these issues are still worth noting.

2. Hormel

Hormel Black Label Original Bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Hormel Black Label Original Bacon lacks a robust flavor.
  • Expected Price: $4.98
  • Package Weight: One pound

Hormel Review

Hormel Natural Choice Bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Hormel Natural Choice Bacon is a tasteless venture.

Hormel produces several different varieties of bacon, but the overall consensus is that the brand just misses the mark.

One reviewer tried Hormel’s Natural Choice bacon and was blown away by just how tasteless it is. This uncured bacon has virtually no authentic bacon flavor.

Hormel’s ​​Black Label Brown Sugar Thick Cut Bacon has an absurd amount of sodium: 470 mg in just two slices. The American Heart Association recommends that an adult consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium in an entire day. Again, we understand that bacon is not meant to be a health food, but sheesh!

Hormel Black Label also features a higher fat-to-meat ratio than most higher-quality bacon brands. If you want a robust, meaty bacon, this brand won’t deliver the goods.

1. Great Value

Great Value Hickory Smoked Bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Great Value Hickory Smoked Bacon received terrible reviews in our survey.
  • Expected Price: $3.98
  • Package Weight: 12 oz

Great Value Review

Great Value Hickory Smoked Lower Sodium Bacon
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Great Value Hickory Smoked Lower Sodium Bacon should NOT be on your shopping list.

The big loser in our bacon battle was Walmart’s Great Value brand. This is interesting, considering that Great Value turkey bacon was actually ranked among the best on the market. For pork bacon, though, the brand fails spectacularly.

Customer reviews tell the tale. Great Value’s Hickory Smoked Bacon has just 2.3 stars out of a 5-star ranking on Walmart’s website. There are 400 1-star reviews. This is enough to signal that this is a horrendously bad product.

Some customers noted the bacon had turned brown or gray even though it had not reached the expiration date yet. Many refer to the inferior packaging, saying the seal was damaged when they purchased it.

One customer on Walmart’s website noted, “Great Value has some very comparable products to name-brand items but, after the third time, I think I’ve finally learned my lesson on bacon. If you like 90% fat and 10% bacon, this is your pick.”

Another customer summed it up by saying, “The WORST bacon I’ve ever purchased! Cut way too thin, falls apart when taking out of the package…more fat than meat. HIGHLY disappointed. Don’t buy this.”

We could go on, but you get the point. Using the words “Great Value” to describe this bacon is a great big lie.

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