Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bacon Jam vs. Baconnaise in BJBALT form

This one goes out to the Onion AV Club Taste Test team, who always gets the first bite of bacon derivatives. Chew on this!

Before we ruin our appetites, a little background is in order. I first heard about Bacon Jam in a post on a completely irrelevant message board. It was being sold by some scooter shop out west that was charging something like $14 for shipping. Being the occasionally wise consumer, I Googled "Bacon Jam" and was able to order it directly from the source -- Skillet, a roving diner in Airstream Trailer form out west. What will the Starbucks-addled minds of the Pacific Northwest think of next?!

Bacon Jam. It sweats through its own jar. Looks like cat food and smells like beef jerky. Perfectly suitable as a bacon substitute for a BLT. Right? Well ...

Bacon in non-strip form certainly has this going for it: If you put it on a sandwich, that sandwich will be very easy to cut in half, and you don't have to worry about failing to chomp through it and bringing an entire strip along with your bite. Of course, the tradeoff is that there is no crisp bacon crunch.

So, how does Bacon Jam taste? I had some friends come over to Nate's Plate HQ to tell me just that.

We made some "BLTs" using Bacon Jam as the meat, and Baconnaise (Kosher and vegetarian, from the people who brought us Bacon Salt) instead of regular mayo. I even got fancy and put avocado on them because the grocery store I went to sells avocados and tomatoes next to each other (clearly a display marketing genius's finest work). Sourdough was the bread of the evening. For the sake of accuracy, these sandwiches will be referred to as BJBALTs (Bacon Jam, Baconnaise, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato).

The orange stuff is Baconnaise and the brown stuff is Bacon Jam.

The sandwiches were washed down with the nectar of the gods known as Magic Hat #9. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm not a big drinker, there is a good chance this stuff would turn me into an alcoholic.

Here were reactions to the first two BJBALTs:

"In some ways this is superior to a regular BLT."
"I'm not really tasting the Baconnaise" (this one will prove to be untrue).
"When you told me about Bacon Jam, I was expecting a gelatin with chunks of bacon suspended in it ...(Instead) it's like a paté."

Me (internal monologue)
"This is pretty good. Not quite normal, but I would definitely eat this again." I didn't even notice that the bacon texture was missing.

"It kinda tastes like a cheeseburger. Like a Wendy's Jr. Bacon to be specific."
"When I first heard the term Bacon Jam, I almost threw up a little. But you get the lettuce and tomato consistency and forget about the jam."

At this point, Logan wanted a second BJBALT even though both Stacey and I swore he had previously said he was not much of a BLT fan. He claims he said he just wasn't a tomato fan. As round two was being prepared, Amber, bacon fan supreme, arrived toting an electric griddle that she generously bestowed upon Nate's Plate HQ.

The second course was served soon enough and it proved to be quite enlightening.

"I don't really taste bacon."
"I don't taste bacon at all and I just had a BLT yesterday so the taste is fresh in my mind."
"The texture is like a tuna sandwich."
"I want real bacon"

As for me, I was discovering that something about the BJBALT was seriously wreaking havoc on the taste of my Magic Hat #9 and that is a major offense. I was beginning to realize that this was not a substitute for actual bacon.

Stacey disagreed. Then, we decided to evaluate Bacon Jam and Baconnaise on their own by spreading them onto tiny pieces of bread -- a course of action that would soon make her realize the error of her ways.

First up: Bacon Jam. Descriptors included "ham salad" (think deviled ham in a chicken salad-like concoction) and "vaguely smoky." Everyone agreed that some sort of sweet onion seemed to be an ingredient.

The only ingredients listed on the Skillet Street Food site are: Rendered "really really good bacon," "a bunch of spices," onions and "etc.," which I believe is like MSG.[1]

How about Baconnaise, the intended condiment? It proved to be responsible for the earlier falsely perceived success of Bacon Jam.

Stacey summed it up best saying, "The only reason I thought that it tasted like a BLT was the Baconnaise."

Pushing Baconnaise farther up the deliciousness totem pole is the fact that while both it and Bacon Jam have to be ordered online, Baconnaise arrives in mere days while Bacon Jam takes weeks.

This is not to say that Bacon Jam is a complete failure, though. Perhaps it's not even meant as a bacon replacement, but as a new kind of bacon product, filling a niche that few of us knew existed. To this end, Bacon Jam will next be evaluated on its own to better assess its ideal use, so stay seated and don't throw your napkin away just yet.

[1] This is a joke. Back up to the article.



Amber said...

bacon jam can suck it. i still want real bacon.

most biggest said...

Sorry to tell you this Nate, but you screwed up this taste test. You can't use Baconnaise, while testing another bacon related product. The results have been spoiled. You need to recreate this experiment using actual mayonnaise. Please feel free to call on me to be a participant. Thank you.