Trying something new is old hat to the family ownership of Kunzler & Co. Inc., a meat processing firm founded by a German butcher in 1901. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based, company is known for its tried-and-true traditional products, but this past spring introduced a new bacon item to its product line-up, one that tugs at the heritage of its German roots: Black Forest Bacon.

While the founder Christian Kunzler didn't produce this item, fourth-generation president and CEO Chris Kunzler III says the 600-employee company has been working on the formulation and marketing plan for more than a year.

“We make an excellent Black Forest ham and turkey ham,” he explains. “We decided to try it with bacon and found the flavor very appealing."

He says while the new entry is not an original German recipe, it is an Americanized version designed to replicate the appearance and taste of an Old World tradition.

The executive notes that Kunzler uses pork bellies trimmed to very tight specifications and are cured with a proprietary blend of brine ingredients. They are then coated with a Black Forest rub and smoked with real hardwoods.  The new product is thick sliced and gluten free with no MSG in the formulation.

"It is tumbled with sweet Black Forest spices to give it a unique taste and then coated with a rub that includes cocoa, dried coffee and corn starch," Kunzler points out.

In the package, each slice appears with a distinctive dark outline from Kunzler’s distinctive rub and smoke.

The new product is sold in 12-oz. packages and is also available in 2-lb. and up to 5-lb. packages, and even 10-lb. packages for foodservice customers. The packaging is sharp, the slices are long and lean, and there is little shrink when the bacon is fried. The flavor pops as much as the colorful label on the package and customers attest that just one taste affirms that this bacon is the real McCoy.

Kunzler says no specialized equipment is used beyond injection and tumbling processing. He comments that the company's R&D team worked diligently to find the perfect spice blend.

"We do as many R&D tests as needed until our team is satisfied that we have just the right flavor to satisfy our customers," he adds.

Kunzler is introducing its Black Forest Bacon into the retail segment with demos and off-the-shelf promotions. In addition, they feature recipes using the bacon on their website

Among those recipes are such listings as Black Forest mousse tarts, cupcakes and even Rice Krispies.

Kunzler & Co. markets its products in 25 states and, in addition to its new Black Forest Bacon, offers bacon in an original version, both regular and thick-cut, honey cured, lower sodium, center cut and a black pepper variety.