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Bacon Mania: Inside the Trend

The bacon craze is one of the biggest food trends of recent years. Bacon mania has resulted in the proliferation of numerous bacon-flavored foods and bacon novelty items, some of which are almost too strange to believe. So what’s the deal with this crazy food fad?

Some of the many bacon-flavored foods to have emerged as part of the bacon trend include bacon ice cream, bacon doughnuts, bacon candy canes, bacon soda, bacon salt, chocolate-covered bacon, bacon-infused vodka, and our personal favorite, bacon-flavored cotton candy. It’s not just Internet novelty stores that sell these foods. Even major fast food chains have joined the bacon craze – for example, Burger King and Jack-in-the-Box both introduced bacon-flavored desserts.

You can also find non-food bacon-related items, such as bacon-scented deodorant, air fresheners, candles, cologne, body wash, and lip balm, and even bacon-inspired fashion and home décor items. The trend has also inspired bacon-of-the-month clubs, websites devoted to all things bacon, and bacon-related events and festivals.

So when and why did bacon mania start? Many people tie the beginning of the bacon craze to the re-popularization of the meat-centric Atkins Diet and other high-protein diets in the mid-2000s. The trend was able to pick up steam and maintain it thanks to Internet popularization. Our love affair with bacon, a notoriously unhealthy food, could also be explained as a rebellious reaction to various health food movements, which are also ongoing.

But beyond the “fad” aspect of the bacon craze, there may also be a solid scientific explanation to explain why people love bacon. In a 2009 article published by The Indypendent, Arun Gupta noted that bacon has six types of umami, or savory tastes, giving it a unique “high flavor profile.” Says Gupta, bacon’s one-of-a-kind savory flavor elicits an addictive response in the human brain.

The bacon trend has been going strong for several years now, and if humans are truly hard-wired to love bacon, it seems unlikely that this fad will die out any time soon. Moreover, with many bacon-flavored foods containing much less fat and calories than the real thing – such as bacon-flavored cotton candy and bacon hard candy – and some “bacon” foods not containing any actual bacon at all – such as gluten-free, vegetarian bacon bits – bacon can even coexist with a healthy lifestyle. (Hey, who would have ever thought you could use “bacon” and “healthy” in the same sentence?)