The raging popularity of bacon has left breakfast, and bacon burgers, in its fatty wake. "Over the past two years, this surge has fueled entrepreneurs' use of bacon as an ingredient," says Patrick Fleming, trends expert at the National Pork Board. Even having just bits of bacon in a product helps generate a huge flavor profile, he says. When you add convenience and shelf-stability--think bacon jerky--you get consumers' attention. And entrepreneurs are smelling opportunity. Last year, smoked dry-rubbed bacon, sold as an ingredient in other companies' products, accounted for 10 percent of sales for Wellshire Farms, a family-owned and -operated producer in Swedesboro, New Jersey. That percentage will likely double this year, says Gavin Mutter, executive VP of sales. The popularity of paleo and low-carbohydrate lifestyles has definitely been a stimulant. In 2015 and 2016, bacon-related products appeared in 34 food and beverage categories, from jam to toaster pastries, according to GlobalData, a market analysis firm. The sizzle is definitely on.
Big Fork Pork and Uncured Bacon Sausage
Big Fork Brands, Chicago
Revenue: About $1 million
Lance Avery says he was dismayed by the "hyperdecline in sausage quality." He and his wife, Ann Hopkins-Avery, started Big Fork Brands with the idea of "making sausage better with bacon." Today, the company has eight bacon-sausage flavors at BaconFreak.com.
Nosh This, San Francisco
Revenue: Under $500,000
After instinctively combining bacon and a friend's toffee for a quick snack, Nosh This founder Kai Kronfield sensed he might be on to something. He was. Since Bacon Crack, he's created three more bacon items, with 17 total offerings. But "early on, people would say, 'Oh, you're the Bacon Crack guy,' " he notes.
Demeter Fragrance Library, Great Neck, New York
Revenue: $5 million-plus
It's the scent customers of the firm that makes Vanilla Cookie Dough and Pizza colognes have most requested. "We've been working on a bacon scent for nearly two decades," says CEO Mark Crames. The problem: "You need the right balance between smokiness and fat and savory--what we refer to as meat's animalistic quality--which is hard to re-create in a fragrance."
Pancakes and Bacon Cookies
The Cravory, San Diego
Revenue: $3 million-plus
"Fans of Pancakes and Bacon--a launch flavor and now one of our 12 signature flavors--tell us it tastes just like breakfast," says Cravory co-founder Adam Koven. The company typically creates eight to 10 bacon-inspired cookie flavors per year. Its Irish stout peanut butter cookie includes a bacon-toffee topping.
Rogue VooDoo Bacon Maple Vodka
Rogue Ales and Spirits, Newport, Oregon
Revenue: $50 million-plus
What would you expect from this pioneering craft brewer, which created Dead Guy Ale? Rogue uses an artisanal, seed-to-bottle distilling process, but the company calls this product "a collision of crazies." Perhaps that's an understatement. Vodka is a neutral spirit, so distillers have forever been flavoring it with interesting ingredients.
Rodeo Jax Bacon Caramel Popcorn
Black Pig Meat Co., Sebastopol, California
Restaurateurs Duskie Estes and John Stewart use scraps from their curing operation to create bacon caramel popcorn and chocolate-dipped bacon candy on a stick featuring brown-sugared, dry-cured bacon from pastured pigs raised on family farms.
They even make a lip balm.