Overtaken with bacon

by Kimberlie Clyma
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It would seem as though America is bacon-obsessed. A simple Google search will not only bring up pages about the history of bacon, nutritional facts about bacon and countless bacon recipes, but the search will also direct interested parties to websites such as baconfreak.com, bacontoday.com and ilovebacon.com – to name just a few.

“Bacon is everyone’s favorite pork-belly decadence,” said Jeff Morris, communication/media director for World Food Championships. “People who love bacon seem to be obsessively in love with bacon.”

This loud and proud love for bacon seems to have spurred on the nation’s bacon craze, and with it countless bacon-marketing campaigns.

Bacon lovers can purchase bacon soda, bacon dental floss, even bacon shaving cream. But bacon fans all agree the best way to enjoy bacon is to eat it.

However, bacon is no longer just the favorite accompaniment to eggs and the “B” in BLT; it’s now used in entrées, appetizers, desserts, even in chocolates. There seems to be no limits to the ways chefs will come up with to satisfy bacon lovers’ cravings.

The proof of this will be on display in November at the 2013 World Food Championships (WFC) in Las Vegas. The World Food Championships annually brings together champions from national food competitions and online recipe contests into a single competition for a piece of the $300,000 prize purse. This year, the WFC will be a tournament-style competition with seven competitive categories culminating in the Final Table competition, where the champions from each category will face off before a celebrity panel in their quest to become the 2013 World Food Champion. The newest category addition – BACON!

“Bacon is extra huge right now – there are bacon fests popping up all over the country,” Morris said. “So, as far as the World Food Championships were concerned adding bacon to the competition was just a logical choice; it just made sense to add bacon to the lineup.”

Bacon domination

The Bacon World Championship will be one of seven world-championship competitions held at the WFC, Nov. 7-10. The bacon category will feature 50 competitors, both professionals and amateurs, who will get the chance to wow the judges with their bacon culinary creations in hopes of getting the chance to vie for the title of World Food Champion at the final table. The Bacon World Champion will compete against the winners of the remaining six categories – barbecue, chili, burger, sandwich, dessert and World Recipe Champion (this year this category will create a pasta dish).

“It’s a real pros versus Joes competition,” Morris explained. “The World Food Championships brings all kinds of chefs together in one place at one time.”

The 50 bacon competitors are the winners of bacon recipe contests and bacon fest competitions around the country. Seven of the bacon chefs received their invitations to the Bacon World Championships as winners of Wright Brand bacon’s Bacon Domination campaign.

Tyson Foods-owned Wright Brand Bacon, also the inaugural title sponsor of the Bacon World Championships, is wrapping up its Bacon Domination campaign, which started in August and runs through November, at six regional barbecue competitions. First-place winners in the bacon competitions get automatically entered into the Bacon World Championships. A seventh participant will be chosen from an online recipe contest on the Wright Brand Bacon website.

At press time, four of the six winners of Wright’s Bacon Domination had been chosen at barbecue competitions in Georgia, Florida, Texas and Tennessee. The winners were:

• Team WE-Q-4-U at the Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival in Kennesaw, Ga. (Bacon Puffs)

• Team Men at Pork at the Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off in Amelia Island, Fla. (Bacon Cream Cheese Brownies)

• Team Four Crows BBQ at the Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival in Bedford, Texas (Sweet Bacon Pie)

• Team Hoggystyle at the International Goat Days Festival in Millington, Tenn. (Bacon Cups with Shrimp and Grits)

Winners will also be chosen at the upcoming Big Buffalo Crossing Barbecue Cookoff in Munfordville, Ky., Oct. 18-19 and Hog Happnin’ in Shelby, NC, Nov. 1-2.

Something sweet

When Amanda and Delayne Crow decided to enter the bacon category of the Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival they wanted to come up with something different to win over the judges.

Amanda went on Pinterest to explore different bacon recipes. “There were so many different recipes using bacon,” she said. “We wanted the biggest ‘wow’ factor.” She decided a bacon dessert would be the most unique.

“In Texas everything gets wrapped in bacon – jalapeños, steak, chicken,” Delayne explained. “But we’d never tried using bacon in a dessert before.”

The Four Crows BBQ team’s Sweet Bacon Pie was awarded 1st place at the Bedford barbecue competition, with a perfect score of 180 (using the Kansas City Barbecue Society’s scoring system).

Amanda wouldn’t divulge any more specifics about the recipe except that it did contain a full package of Wright Brand Bacon.

The Crows aren’t the only ones hoping their sweet and savory recipe combination will help them in Vegas – Marcia Gebhardt of Team Men at Pork also decided to go the dessert route, which brought home her first-place award at the Great Southern Tailgate Cook-off in Amelia Island, Fla. Gebhardt’s Bacon Cream Cheese Brownies were enough to score her an invitation to the world competition but will it be enough to edge out the other 49 competitors at the Bacon World Championships?

“Bacon is a great addition to the food competition because there are so many different interpretations of how to incorporate bacon into a recipe,” Morris said. “The options are wide open when it comes to bacon.”

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