Photo by Kat Kinsman

Love yourself a little bit more than this

Kat Kinsman
October 01, 2018

You've been lied to about bacon and I want to personally apologize to you if I've taken any active role in this as a breakfast journalist and de facto arbiter of bacon. The party line is this: Bacon is good, always good, yumyumyum bacon. Squee. Even middling bacon is still excellent by virtue of its baconity, so yay, bacon on every thing in every form, shall we all live our baconiest existence unto eternity, which is probably constructed of bacon.

But we must face that there's cruddy bacon out there, trotting along on on the goodwill garnered by harder-working, better-crafted bacon, and it is my self-appointed duty to alert you to the presence of it so that you may avoid consumption thereof. Extra Crispy for a time had an official bacon critic whose raison d'etre was to guide the pork-consuming populace to the best bacon in all the land and I guess I'm just trying to be the yellow, plastic, OSHA-approved caution sign steering you around the hazard of a subpar pork snack.

Some people might say the signs were there, that what could you expect from pre-cooked bacon from a Sunoco, but that'd be incredibly short-sighted. Plenty of culinary pleasures can be had at the gas station, and the bagged meat section is particularly rife with them. Jerky gets a bum rap from people who think they're somehow above the consumption of shelf-stable snack meats, but they're just playing themselves. The stuff is generally pretty tasty (if sodium laden), and packs a fair amount of lean protein for the price. But man, was this "A.M. Breakfast Bacon" a bummer.

Photo by Kat Kinsman

Granted, it doesn't technically say "jerky" on the package, but rather basked in the halo effect of its placement amongst it—not to mention my fondness for other Jack Link's products. Liner notes suggest that Brown Sugar and Maple Flavored A.M. Breakfast Bacon makes a "nutritious snack" and might ideally be enjoyed as part of a hot breakfast by dint of a 10-second skid through a microwave, but man, does my actual mouth suggest otherwise.

I feel bad yucking someone else's yum; a good pal once told me that she likes it to always be sunny on her side of the street, and Roy Orbison counseled us that if you can't say something nice, you oughtn't say anything at all, but bad bacon is just an insult to the fabric of decency that makes up the meat-eating part of our society. Part of the social contract of carnivores is that bacon will taste good and this just plain old does not, which makes it somehow worse than a snack that lives outside these physical and emotional expectations. This bacon tastes like a syrup-logged birthday card—one of those thick ones, from Grandma, but minus the $5 bill—with an unnervingly just-off-rancid finish that made me instantly regret my own naivete.

A different friend once told me how the wife of a renowned pork purveyor revealed to him that when traveling, she'd carry along a baggie full of cooked, crumbled bacon just in case she found herself at a restaurant that fell short of her wants. She said to my friend, "If I can't have bacon on my salad, I just don't care about it." It's that deeply rooted in her culinary canon. But I wonder what would happen if she were served a salad with this particular pork upon it. I can't help but imagine she'd see it for the hogwash it is and run squealing all the way home.

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