As a conscientious blogger, I feel it is my duty to try and stay on top of (or at the very least, trail not too far behind) the latest trends. Here's one that seems to have captured my tween daughter and most of her friends — as well as grown men, grown women, small children, the media, the food industry and Lady Ga Ga's dressmakers.
I'm writing, of course, about BACON.
Now, I myself rarely if ever eat bacon. (In my perfect life, I would be vegan. Of course, in my perfect life, Oprah Winfrey's personal chef would do all my cooking.) Despite my natural aversion to cured meats, I do confess that the smell of bacon sizzling in the pan instantaneously transports me back to my childhood visits to my grandmother's house. So, while I may not ingest it, even I (self-described woulda shoulda coulda been a vegetarian) am not immune to bacon's power.
What I find so interesting is that here we are in a world that is hyper conscious of diet and appearance. Where people spend millions of dollars on diet supplements, health clubs and even plastic surgery. And yet ... we still wannna bring home the bacon. Not to mention fry it up in the pan.
You know how there are times when some random item or thought or piece of music suddenly seems to be everywhere? It becomes a 24/7 leitmotif and you can't help but wonder if there is some deeper, hidden meaning to these seemingly coincidental reappearances? (No? Well, trust me, it can happen.)
Lately, I have been surrounded by bacon. Here are some of my recent run-ins with it ...
• Gourmet chocolate-covered bacon at a local sweet shop. (I find the idea of it repulsive. But, of course, I had to buy some for my husband.)
• A bumper sticker in front of me at an intersection that read, in a milk-like way, "got bacon?" It was next to one that said, "My beagle is smarter than your honor student." Hmmm. Perhaps this is because the beagle eats bacon?
• Flipping through the channels (with apologies to Bruce, it was one of those "1,076 channels and nothing on" nights), I caught the scene from Pulp Fiction when greasy hit man Vincent (John Travolta) offers evangelical hit man Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) a bit of his dinner ...
Vincent: Want some bacon?
Jules: No man, I don't eat pork.
Vincent: Are you Jewish?
Jules: Nah, I ain't Jewish, I just don't dig on swine, that's all.
Vincent: Why not?
Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don't eat filthy animals.
Vincent: Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.
• A recent trip to Vermont where I saw "Mr. Bacon Posable Bendy Figure Toys" for sale at an upscale general store that specialized in artisanal breads and overpriced embroidered jackets. (I resisted. All of the above.)
• A recent trip to New Hampshire (this is what comes of being a non-skier in an all-skier family) where my girlfriend and I purchased a box of gourmet cupcakes and watched a couple of hours later as the rest of the group practically fought over the "Maple and Bacon" one. Yes, you read right ... a cupcake topped with maple syrup and bacon. (Again, I resisted.)
• My four-year-old niece who visited us last week and wanted to watch The Simpsons. Apparently Homer's great love of bacon does not preclude his owning a precious porker pet, "Spider Pig."
Is that smokehouse in the sky trying to tell me something? Or, is it just a big fat bacon world? There are entire websites devoted to small-batch, locally-sourced bacon; bacon clothing; bacon accessories; bacon gifts; and bacon novelties. Bacon strip band-aids, anyone? Check. A gourmet "Swine and Wine" club? Check. Bacon tee shirts, bacon wallets, bacon watch bands? Check, check, check.
My personal favorite? The "My FIrst Bacon Talking Plush Toy." Okay, is that because there will be a second, third or fourth bacon talking plush toy? The product is marketed with a photo of a darling mop top in a Disney princess dress, hugging her bacon. And, as an advertising copywriter, I have to say that I am in awe of their tagline: "You've got a friend in meat."
Why do so many teens (and so many non-teens) worship at the alter of bacon? Is it the salt? The fat? Does it bring back memories of big, old-fashioned family breakfasts (in the days before cereal bars took all the guilt and all the taste out of the morning meal)? Or, is it because we know it's bad for us and that adds to its "forbidden fruit" allure? Sarah Katherine Lewis, in her book Sex and Bacon: Why I Love Things That Are Very, Very Bad for Me, explains that "Nobody wants to be wholesome, boring Betty when they could be sexy, hot-to-trot Veronica 'Pour me a drink, light me a smoke, fry me up a pan of bacon, and let’s get it on.' "
I guess if eating bacon is indeed a way to be bad (so bad that it's good), I shouldn't complain. There are worse habits my daughter and her friends might pick up than devouring some fresh fried pork product now and then.
If you have any doubts about how passionate an underage bacon lover can be, just check out this story from several weeks ago. A fifteen-year-old boy was charged with misdemeanor battery after throwing frozen bacon at his elderly grandmother because she wouldn't let him cook it.
Now, if that's not a porcine portent for the rest of us, I don't know what is.