Bringing Back the Baconer
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because in the ’70s, we couldn’t get enough of its crispy goodness, and that still holds true today.
By Zara Stone
Bacon, meat of champions, the hungover and the hungry. It makes the industry around $4 billion in annual sales (and rising), and the National Pork Board reported that the average American consumes around 47 pounds per person, a rate that hasn’t changed much over the years. But bacon: Perfect the morning after, wonderful at brunch and a staple of the BLT (obviously).
But why limit yourself to traditional ways of cooking it? In fact, why cook, when you can toast? Enter the Baconer, a novelty bacon-maker from the ’70s. Toaster-like in design, its raison d’être is to get your meat crispy-licious, keeping the flavor and losing the fat (which drains into a tray at its base). Basically, a sideways George Foreman grill. It’s pretty idiot-proof to use. You fold strips of bacon over its raised center, pressing up its sides like a sandwich toaster. Then select “more crisp” or “less crisp” on the dial. Yes, that’s the exact wording. A few minutes of toasting, and you’re ready to get your bacon on.
Food writer Robby Melvin calls it the “driving force behind all things crispy, luscious and porcine at Granny’s.”
Despite its ingenuity, the Baconer somehow didn’t make it into the 21st century (the company that made it was sold in 1972 and told OZY there’s no further info), and you can only acquire it now through outlets like eBay or Etsy. But those who’ve used one speak of it rapturously. Food writer Robby Melvin calls it the “driving force behind all things crispy, luscious and porcine at Granny’s,” and Amy Traverso wrote that it “gives off the most incredible smell.”
“When you can take a food and put it into fun shapes, it makes eating even more fun,” said Thom Jensen, creator of the Perfect Bacon Bowl, a product that lets you make an edible shell out of those salty strips. “Someone needs to bring the Baconer back.” He’s enjoying riding his own bacon-coaster of success — over 2 million of his bowls have been manufactured since 2013, perhaps a sign that the Baconer could have been a hit today.
Indeed, not only is the market for bacon growing — up nearly 11 percent from 2013, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI (@iriworldwide). But so, too, are the number of bacon-cooking gadgets. For instance, consider the conceptual Wake ’n Bacon alarm clock, which wakes you to the smell of bacon frying. (Fire extinguisher not provided.) Then there’s the Bacon Wave that purports to give you “the frying taste without the frying pan.” The Presto PowerCrisp uses slanted racks to layer your morning meat into the microwave. And don’t even get us started on the themed products, like Bakon Vodka, bacon candy canes and bacon-scented sex lubricant.
But what about the idea that people want to cut down on their meat consumption and watch their waistline? “Everyone talks a good game about wanting to eat healthy, but they keep coming up with more bacon ideas,” said Scott Dromms, Intellectual Property Manager at Edison Nation, a company that works with innovators to bring their idea into production.
We may be living in a “bacon bubble,” but for now, at least, it’s one with snap, crackle — and no pop.
* Story has been updated to correct an editing error.