Jerry Aulenbach, a real estate agent from Edmonton, is so enthusiastic about smoked pork belly that he now spends his spare time dressed as a bacon strip.
“I had the bacon suit made for Halloween, but I never really wore it out. I got the idea to wear it to fundraisers and other events, and it has been very well received in several cities and provinces,” said Aulenbach.
“As it continued to grow over time, I began accepting and embracing my lot as the Bacon Man. I ditched my traditional real estate business card and had one designed in the shape of a piece of bacon,” Aulenbach said.
As his persona became more “baconated,” he began receiving requests to appear across the country at fundraisers, conferences, elementary schools and restaurants.
In an era of calorie counting and trendy veganism, bacon’s rise to fame is really a rags-to-riches story — especially with those who had the vision to see it coming, such as California’s Rocco Loosbrock, owner of baconfreak.com and baconto day.com.
Loosbrock owns Coastal Vineyards, a California company specializing in wine tastings and online wine clubs. Part of his business was helping wine aficionados discover the world of wine flavours through innovative food pairings. “I was at a store, looking at some peppered bacon, and thought that if I put that on top of some bruschetta, people would be really able to taste that, and so ‘Swine and Wine’ was born,” said Loosbrock.
How did bacon transcend the breakfast barrier to become hedonistic pleasure on par with the world’s best wines?
“Just as much bacon is being made as before, but here’s the difference — bacon has earned its way to the dinner plate. People have learned that they can use bacon as a powerful ingredient in things that they cook,” said Loosbrock.
The phenomenon has resulted in Facebook and Twitter bacon-focused memes such as the Valentine’s Day one that reads: “Bacon roses. She wants romance, you want a snack. Problem solved.”
“Do you know how many people wanted us to make bacon roses? And we tried, but it’s so hard. We probably got this year alone 100 requests for bacon roses,” said Loosbrock.
The bacon craze hasn’t gone unnoticed by pork producers. “A couple of weeks ago I was at a restaurant — Murrieta’s in Edmonton — and they had bacon-infused marshmallow wrapped with chocolate and bacon bits on a stick,” said Darcy Fitzgerald, Alberta Pork’s CEO. “It’s unfortunate the whole animal hasn’t taken on the same popularity,” he said. There’s only so much bacon in each pig.