What explains today’s fascination with bacon as a flavor? It’s similar to why we like peanut butter and chocolate, salted caramels and other sweet salty treats, explained Bruce Murphy, vice-president, Mother Murphy’s Laboratories, Greensboro, NC. “Bacon adds depth to almost any menu item. It’s here to stay and even has room for creative variations like honey bacon for baked goods or pepper bacon for snacks,” he noted.

Caramel bacon brownies, bacon and chocolate chip cookies, even macaroons with bacon bits — all are on the market now, according to Phil Sprovieri, vice-president of sales and marketing, Flavorchem Corp., Downers Grove, IL. “It’s been incorporated into icings as well as cupcakes. Bacon will probably be around for a while, but the key is, don’t overdo it,” he said

Just a small amount adds a fatty-salty-smoky taste. “And it sells,” Mr. Murphy said. “It’s a perfect example of the comfort food trend. Bacon, more than any other savory flavor, has bakers thinking savory shows a lot of promise for their foods.”

Rudy Roeskin, general manager, corporate vice-president of food ingredients, QualiTech, Inc., Chaska, MN, reported that QualiTech produces a kosher parve bacon inclusion with lower sodium content than the real thing.

“Bacon makes everything better!” he said. “What consumers like is that it adds richness. If you add that fatty, salty characteristic, you’re developing a much more complicated food product, which is satisfying.”

Among the bacon flavor requests fielded by Comax Flavors are applications in toffee, chocolate, ice cream syrups and cookies, as well as beer and vodka. “Of course, bacon is still very popular for chips, crackers and other snacks,” said Agneta Weisz, vice-president, R&D, Comax Flavors, Melville, NY.

Bacon in snacks has been around for a while. “You can find it in everything from pizza to pasta to frozen dinners, and smaller companies now offer niche products flavored with bacon such as popcorn, nuts and sunflower seeds,” said Dave Hays, marketing director, snacks, Givaudan Flavors, Cincinnati, OH.