Mmmmmm bacon. We can't begin to tell you emphatically enough that it's not just for breakfast anymore.
Bacon is undergoing quite a transformation. In Las Vegas, it's possible to find milk and dark chocolate bacon bars, bacon chocolate-chip pancake mix, bacon-caramel toffee (all at Vosges Haut-Chocolat), at least two different bacon cupcakes (Retro Bakery and The Cupcakery), a BLT made with a pound of bacon (the NASCAR Cafe) and, to wash it all down, a bacon martini (the Double Down Saloon).
Go online and the celebration of all things bacon becomes even more clear. There are several Web sites devoted to bacon (including www.BaconToday.com and www.BaconUnwrapped.com) and things that can be done with it, such as the Bacon Explosion, a woven mat of bacon strips enclosing a log of Italian sausage with a core of crumbled bacon (at www.bbqaddicts.com, which has both the free recipe and pre-made Explosions for sale), or Bacon Cups (at www.NotMartha.org), which the creator says are ideal for filling with lettuce and tomato for a sort of breadless BLT.
"Bacon, culturally, has just flowered lately," said Dave Courvoisier, an anchor at KLAS-TV, Channel 8. "It's trendy. It's just gotten to be this kind of funny obsession with some people."
He has been among them, with a Twitter account called BaconMayo, the avatar for which is an open jar of mayonnaise with two pieces of bacon sticking out.
"People send me recipes," he said. "I'll re-Tweet. I've backed off a little bit because my doctor said I needed to. It's not a great healthy food."
Courvoisier comes by his love of bacon in a locavore kind of way, having grown up on an Illinois pig farm.
"We actually butchered right there on the farm," he said. "The freezer was always full of bacon. I love the flavor. Sometimes I'll just fry up a plate, just to eat bacon." On his desk, he said, are a couple of tins of bacon-flavored mints and a chocolate bar with bacon embedded in it.
"I expect bacon-flavored toothpaste to come out," he said. "It's just nutty."
At Retro Bakery at 7785 N. Durango Drive, bacon isn't nutty, it's maple-y -- in the form of a maple-bacon cupcake. Owner Kari Haskell said the bacon craze inspired her to create the cupcake about a year ago; it has been on Retro's daily menu for about six months.
"I always had a blueberry-pancake cupcake," she said. "I knew if I could take out the blueberry and add the bacon, I'd get a totally different sweet/salty experience. Think pancakes and bacon."
The cupcake is one of her top five sellers, Haskell said.
"It's either totally loved or totally hated," she said. "It usually takes me giving one away to make people believers. And then they come back and buy six."
The Cupcakery, which has stores at 9680 S. Eastern Ave. and 7175 W. Lake Mead Blvd., has a cupcake called Trip to Graceland, made with chunky peanut-butter cake with banana-cream frosting, rolled in bacon and drizzled with honey.
At Vosges Haut-Chocolat at the Forum Shops at Caesars, store manager Hayley Evans said some people have credited company owner Katrina Markoff with starting the craze with her milk-chocolate bar studded with bacon bits. The company has since added a dark-chocolate version, bacon mini-bars, bacon-caramel toffee and bacon-chocolate-chip pancake mix, plus a bacon truffle that's available as part of a chocolate truffle collection.
"They're the top-selling products of our whole entire company" and also sold through retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Whole Foods Market, Evans said of the bacon products. "Every week they're the top sellers."
The store also expects, in April, a new bacon-caramel-toffee ice cream and a bacon-caramel-toffee cookie, Evans said.
All of which would be music to the ears of members of the Bacon Club at Advanced Technologies Academy. Yes, Bacon Club, which started in November with 104 members, according to Mike MacDougall, one of the founding members.
"It was actually our history teacher who inspired it," said club President Chad Palmer. Palmer and his friends wanted to start a club, but needed a focus. As they sat in history class one day, teacher Robert Henderson said, "out of nowhere, 'Thank God for the man who invented bacon,' " Palmer remembers. And a club was born.
"I think it's cool, actually, that a food item can become so popular," Palmer said. "There's so many different things people can do with bacon."
At meetings, Palmer talks about bacon, and they hand out bacon and bacon-related foods, maybe get a coupon for a free Baconator from Wendy's.
"It's basically a place where kids can chill and have fun and eat bacon," MacDougall said.
"The fact that it makes any other food worth eating," he said. "The texture and the taste and the fact that you can cook it many different ways and it'll still be good."
"It's just crazy," Courvoisier said. "It is."
Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@review journal.com or 702-383-0474.