Special Report

25 Bacon Flavored Foods the World Just Doesn't Need

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Bacon just won’t die. Americans have probably eaten this cured and/or smoked pork belly product for as long as there have been Americans. Our over-the-top national obsession with it, though, seems to have gotten started only after high-protein, low-carb diets started becoming popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Oregon-based food writer Sara Perry helped kick-start the trend with the 2002 cookbook “Everything Tastes Better With Bacon.”

As early as 2007, Grub Street announced that “bacon has jumped the shark,” and a couple of years later the same site declared that articles about bacon jumping the shark had also jumped the shark. A decade has passed since then, though, and, sharks or no sharks, we still find bacon everywhere we turn, sometimes in the places we least expect it.

When Perry proposed that everything tasted better with bacon, she probably didn’t mean absolutely everything. But never underestimate American creativity when it comes to creating unusual food products or to capitalizing on a trend. And bacon happens to lend itself particularly well to adaptation and improvisation, since it has an absolutely distinctive, unmistakable flavor — smoky, salty, meaty, slightly sweet — and of course, an irresistible aroma.

That aroma, in which more than 150 compounds have been identified, can be closely mimicked by food scientists, it turns out. And, “Fortunately for flavor creation teams,” according to a company called Advanced Biotech, which manufactures raw materials for use by the flavor and fragrance industry, “bacon is a relatively easy flavor to replicate.”

That’s why we now have bacon-flavored jelly beans, hot sauce, cotton candy, and beer, among many other things. It’s reminiscent of the way food producers have turned the flavors of a popular coffee drink into 24 pumpkin spice products we don’t really need.

Click here for 25 bacon-flavored foods the world doesn’t need

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the ease with which bacon’s characteristics can apparently be recreated in the laboratory, many “bacon-flavored” foods don’t contain any bacon at all. A hint of what they might contain may be found in the ingredient list for a food additive called Olive Nation Natural Bacon Flavor. It contains “Bacon Flavor (autolyzed yeast extract, sorbitol, hydrolyzed soy protein), lipolyzed butter oil (milk), natural smoke flavor, soy lecithin, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean and/or cottonseed), natural flavors and mixed tocopherols.” Doesn’t exactly sound like something you’d like to fry up with your eggs in the morning, does it?

The creativity of the food-centered scientific community and of the product development teams who work for big food companies is to be admired. And a hint of bacon in some non-bacon products is fine, and sometimes even enhances the basic item. But sometimes these products are just plain silly. Sometimes they just plain have no reason to live.  

Source: Courtesy of Amazon.com

1. Accoutrements Bacon Beans

Something compels the makers of jelly beans to go a little crazy when they come up with new flavors. Black pepper, sausage, and popcorn are among the possibilities — not to mention (really) dead fish, canned dog food, and stinky socks. Bearing grotesqueries like those in mind, bacon-flavored jelly beans don’t really seem so out of line. But, hey, what’s wrong with cherry, orange, or cinnamon?

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Source: Courtesy of Adagio Teas

2. Adagio Teas It’s…Bacon!

The self-described “small but nimble family-owned” Adagio Teas company makes a bacon-flavored tea that involves no bacon, not even some artificial essence. It’s based on the fact that Lapsang Souchong tea, grown in China’s Fujian Province, is notoriously smoky in character — to the point that it is sometimes called “smoked tea.” Apparently worried that Lapsang Souchong wasn’t smoky enough, Adagio blended it with black tea, apples, caramel and caramel apple flavors, and cinnamon bark to amplify the effect, and bestowed upon the results that magical word, “Bacon!” Now maybe some artisanal bacon-maker will produce a bacon called “Lapsang Souchong!”

Source: Courtesy of Archie McPhee

3. Archie McPhee Bacon Gumballs

If just eating or drinking something flavored with bacon (or with bacon flavoring) isn’t enough for you because the sensation disappears too quickly, these gumballs might be for you. Pop one these bright red coated spheres of bacony chewing gum into your mouth and let the flavor flood your taste buds until you’ve masticated it all away. Then make your dentist happy and clean your teeth with Archie’s bacon floss.

Source: Courtesy of Bacon Hot Sauce

4. Bacon Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is pretty good with bacon and eggs, and some have been known to add it to a BLT or grilled cheese and bacon sandwich. If your hot sauce comes already enhanced with bacon (or at least with “natural flavor” that mimics it), though, why would you need the bacon itself? And you know you want the bacon.

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Source: Courtesy of Black Rock Spirits, LLC

5. Bakon Vodka

Produced by Seattle-based Black Rock Spirits (the company’s other brand is Sparkle Donkey Tequila), Bakon Vodka is a potato-based spirit, redistilled with a bacon infusion. Its porky flavor is said to enhance Bloody Marys. Maybe so. And maybe, as the Bakon website claims, mixing savory ingredients with alcohol is a time-honored practice (the company cites 17th-century savory ales). But if you want meat in your cocktail, why not just order that popular Mad Men-era cocktail, the Bullshot — vodka with beef bouillon or consommé, spiked with a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce and sometimes Tabasco. Sounds weird? It is. So maybe think twice about vodka with cured, smoked meat.

Source: Courtesy of Bones Coffee Company

6. Bones Coffee Co. Maple Bacon Coffee

Perusing the Bones Coffee Co. product line might make your teeth ache. Flavored coffee is nothing new, but French toast, salted caramel, strawberry cheesecake, white Russian, bananas Foster, peanut butter and jelly? And, er, maple bacon? Just plain coffee boasts some of the best, most complex flavors in the world. It doesn’t need this kind of help.

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Source: Courtesy of baconfreak.com

7. Boss Hog’s Bacon Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the world’s healthiest foods, full of fatty acids and other beneficial compounds, including antioxidants. Some studies have even suggested that it might help prevent cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. It’s the much-praised Mediterranean diet in a bottle. Introducing bacon into olive oil, even as mere flavoring, sort of seems to miss the point.

Source: Courtesy of Chocolate Storybook

8. Chocolate Storybook Bacon Cotton Candy

Cotton candy is basically threads of spun caramelized sugar, so light that when it was invented in the late 1800s, it was called “fairy floss” (the term “cotton candy” gained currency in the 1920s). Standard pink cotton candy is flavored with vanilla, but the Iowa-based confectionery Chocolate Storybook creates more than 50 other flavors. Some of these, like banana, grape, Key lime, and pumpkin pie, seem perfectly reasonable. Others — chardonnay, margarita, spicy jalapeño, buttered popcorn — are a little more questionable. But bacon? Fatty and crispy grafted onto light and flossy? No.

Source: Unilever

9. Continental Pumpkin, Bacon & Sour Cream Risotto

Here’s a risotto no Italian has likely ever dreamed of, even in a nightmare. That’s because it’s a product of New Zealand, in a pouch. Made with “responsibly grown New Zealand pumpkins,” it is said to be a “‘go-to’ during cold winter nights.” The Continental website recommends stirring in goat cheese, baby spinach, and something called Flora Buttery Spread. At least the bacon, in this case, appears to be the genuine article.

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Source: Courtesy of The Cravory

10. The Cravory Pancakes and Bacon Cookies

Pancakes and bacon, yum. Pancake-dough cookies embedded with shards of real bacon, as made by The Cravory, a group of cookie shops in the San Diego area? Well, okay. But when the pancakes and bacon are in cookie form, you can’t very well add butter and maple syrup — at least not with any dignity — and butter and maple syrup are half the fun.

Source: Courtesy of firehousepantrystore.com

11. Firehouse Flavors Bacon & Cheese Crick-ettes

It is said that at least 2 billion people worldwide eat insects regularly, and scientists tell us that they’re a nutritious and an environmentally friendly food source. Ohio’s Firehouse Flavors, which sells a wide range of flavoring mixes, seasonings, and spicy foods, is apparently trying to lure us all into the insect camp by enhancing crickets with bacon and cheese (among other flavorings) and positioning them as crunchy snacks. Sorry. We’ll just have the Doritos, thanks.

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Source: Courtesy of freshpet.com

12. Freshpet Dog Joy Turkey Bacon

You can argue about whether or not bacon can be made of turkey (though there are certainly plenty of examples of it out there), but at least these dog treats are made from real wood-smoked turkey. One reviewer on the manufacturer’s website thought they smelled so good he/she was tempted to tear off a bite. Real bacon wouldn’t have been better?

Source: Courtesy of Funky Buddha Brewery

13. Funky Buddha Brewery Maple Bacon Coffee Porter

Pumpkin spice, chocolate, coconut, coffee, cinnamon, chiles, maple syrup… Sometimes it seems as if there’s no food craft brewers won’t toss into their ales, stouts, and porters. Funky Buddha’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, released once a year by the Florida-based brewery, seems like it’s trying to put actual breakfast into the suds. If you’re going this route, why stop with just maple bacon and coffee? Why not add eggs and toast, maybe sausage, maybe a couple of Eggos?

Source: Gone Rogue

14. Gone Rogue High Protein Chicken Bacon Chips

Now here’s a concept: actual chicken, cured, sliced thin, and dried into snack chips, then enhanced with “natural smoke flavor…[and] bacon style seasoning.” In this case, according to the label, there is actual pork involved, presumably providing the “bacon flavor” listed among the ingredients. Isn’t making chicken taste like bacon a little creepy? What’s next? Turkey-flavored salmon?

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Source: J & D Foods

15. J & D’s Original Bacon Salt

The idea of adding bacon flavor to almost anything you cook with just a shake of a canister certainly has some appeal. But the term “bacon” is used loosely here, in this “all natural,” vegetarian, kosher seasoning salt. That’s because the bacon is simulated by a blend of maltodextrin, dehydrated garlic and onion, paprika, “natural flavors,” and yeast extract, among other things. At least the sea salt is real.

Source: Courtesy of Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shops

16. Lester’s Fixins Bacon Soda

Lester’s Fixins is a house brand for Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop, a chain with some 90 locations around the country plus one in Canada — and 50 more U.S. outposts in the works. Rocket Fizz, which launched in California in 2008 with the promise to stock some 1,400 different sodas, obviously likes to have fun with its own bottlings. Other Lester’s flavors include sweet corn, peanut butter and jelly, Buffalo wing, and ranch dressing. There are also bacon variations with chocolate and with maple syrup. Sorry, but carbonated bacon doesn’t do it for us. At least Rocket Fizz hasn’t duplicated the Thanksgiving-themed soft drink released in 2009 by another company, Jones Soda: Tofurkey and Gravy Flavor.

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Source: Lollyphile!

17. Lollyphile Sriracha Bacon Lollipops

These ball-shaped lollies combine the flavor of bacon with that of another trendy food item we can’t believe is still so crazy popular after all these years — the Thai-inspired hot sauce called sriracha. Among Lollyphile’s other flavors are chocolate bacon, maple bacon, and, just for variety, blue cheese.

Source: Courtesy of baconfreak.com

18. Melville Candy Company BBQ Bacon Strip Lollipops

More lollipops. With its wavy indentations and protruding round-ended wooden stick, these lollipops look more like some sort of miniature futuristic guitar than the strip of fried bacon they’re apparently supposed to resemble (and nothing at all like Lollyphile’s Tootsie-Pop-shaped version). If the idea of licking a bacon-flavored length of candy flavored with sticky-sweet barbecue sauce appeals to you, well…they say there’s a sucker born every minute.

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Source: Courtesy of PigOutChips.com

19. Pig Out Pigless Bacon Chips

There are mushrooms that actually taste like bacon. Arizona’s Sonoran Mushroom Co., for instance, grows a kind of pink oyster mushrooms that have such smoky flavor that the company markets them as “bacon mushrooms.” These, on the other hand, are paper-thin slices of a related species, the king oyster mushroom, fried and seasoned to give them a faux-bacony identity. Then they’re sold not just plain but also in versions enhanced with chipotle, cheddar, and Kansas City BBQ sauce — just in case straight bacon isn’t flavorful enough for you.

Source: Post Consumer Brands

20. Post Honey Bunches of Oats Maple Bacon Donuts Cereal

Right at the top of the box this Post creation comes in, it says “artificially flavored cereal.” No kidding. Let’s see: honey, oats, maple, bacon, and donuts, all in one package. The cereal appears to be flecked with little bits of bacon. However, the manufacturer stresses that there is no actual bacon or other meat involved — just the “delicious taste of… bacon, blended with sweet maple and honey.” Why are we not surprised?

Source: Courtesy of CSC Brands

21. Prego Italian Sauce Flavored with Bacon & Provolone

The Campbell Soup Co.’s Prego line of Italian-inspired sauces includes such never-in-Italy concoctions as Roasted Garlic Parmesan Alfredo Sauce and Pesto Marinara Italian Sauce, as well as this one, flavored with bacon and provolone. Italians don’t eat bacon, at least not the same kind we do. They eat Pancetta (cured but unsmoked pork belly), or Guanciale, (cured but unsmoked pork jowls or cheeks), and Prosciutto, of course. Any of those would go nicely in tonight’s pasta sauce. Save the bacon for breakfast.

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Source: Courtesy of Seasonal Selections

22. Seasonal Selections Sugar & Spice Sizzlin’ Bacon Salsa

Since 1992, salsa — which Merriam-Webster defines as “a usually spicy sauce of chopped tomatoes, onions, and peppers [chiles]” — has outsold ketchup as America’s favorite condiment. Though salsa is often made fresh, versions in jars, cans, or plastic tubs are common. Even the packaged examples, though, tend to be fresh-tasting — oh, and all are vegetarian. Salsa may go with meat, but it doesn’t contain it. Anyway, how would you get bacon to “sizzle” in a sauce, unless the stuff were fermenting?

Source: Courtesy of Princeton Vanguard

23. Snack Factory Bacon Habanero Pretzel Crisps

Pretzel Crisps are kind of a strange idea to begin with — yet another example of the modern trend of trying to turn almost anything into something resembling chips (rice and beans, kale, coconut, seaweed, chickpeas, all kinds of fruits and vegetables, etc.). Combining habaneros, among the hotter chiles in the world, with bacon (or at least a whole lot of non-bacon ingredients that come together to suggest bacon) seems even stranger. Bacon is smoky and a little sweet, while habaneros are fiery and fruity. Wouldn’t the two ingredients cancel each other out?

Source: Courtesy of Hormel Foods

24. Spam with Real Hormel Bacon

Spam — the edible, not the deletable, kind — is made from “pork with ham,” according to brand owner Hormel Foods. (The label suggests that this is a single ingredient, as opposed to, say, “pork and ham.”) There are now 16 varieties of this iconic canned meat. One of them, introduced in 2004, is Spam with Real Hormel Bacon. The meat products this one includes are “pork with ham,” bacon, and rendered bacon fat. That sounds more like the topping for one of those “Meat-Lover’s Pizzas” than something you’d want to fry up by itself.

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Source: Courtesy of baconfreak.com

25. Uncle Oinker’s Savory Bacon Mints

Part of the appeal of bacon is that salty, smoky, meaty flavor that fills your mouth and lingers on your palate even after you’ve chewed and swallowed it. Part of the appeal of breath mints is that they banish other flavors from your mouth in favor of a clean, herbaceous, distinctly non-meaty taste. Don’t the two cancel each other out?

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