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Bacon Face-Off

February 4th, 2009 by Mike Nelson · 78 Comments

Jimmy Dean v. Niman's RanchThis morning’s meal consisted of a bacon face-off. On one side, Jimmy Dean’s Original Premium bacon (motto “Shine On”) and on the other Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked. The Niman’s was clearly still smarting from the pounding it received at the hands of Cook’s Illustrated – it looked down on the much smaller Jimmy Dean (exactly half the price!) with its intense gaze and said simply, “I must break you.” Jimmy, however, had other plans.

Those plans were immediately dashed. Niman’s, to use a bacon appropriate term, took Jimmy out behind the woodshed. It was smokier, thicker and had a better texture.

That is not to say that I couldn’t be happy eating Jimmy Dean’s, just that “the best is the enemy of the good.” (I do think the cooks at Cook’s illustrated were woozy from huffing vanilla extract before this test because they also trashed Nueske’s bacon, which I’ve had and is quite delicious. They also seemed to punish bacons that were fatty, again, forgetting in their fume-induced orgy of scorn, that bacon is made from a very fatty cut of meat. They also praised the sweeter bacons, which makes me think they might be happier with a tin of bacon mints.)


BaconMy wife, bless her, bought me a little on-the-go energy snack, a.k.a., bacon in a jar, which I took along on my workout. Not great, is my review, and the label may give some clue as to why: it’s been sitting in the jar since 1891!

Tags: Month o' Bacon · RiffTrax · bacon

78 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Thor Radford on Feb 4, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Is that like being “Bacon’d!?”

  • 2 Thor Radford on Feb 4, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Of course there’s always the venerable BaconSalt. “Cause everything should taste like bacon!”

    I’m just sayin’…

  • 3 Wesley Stamper on Feb 4, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    You could have set up your next blog nicely if you had cast Jimmy Dean’s as Apollo Creed and Niman’s as Drago.
    Then, and only then, would the next bacon showdown have the pathos necessary for a truly epic bout.

  • 4 jfe on Feb 4, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    The article doesn’t name the tasters, just says they are staff members. They might all be skinny minnys on diets so fat repulses them. But the meat is protein so that’s ok.

  • 5 Baconette on Feb 4, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Oh, MJN, I almost forgot about your love of bacon. And then I came across this on popsugar:

    The title of this blog post was Dumbass of the Day, but now is changed to WTF?!

  • 6 Joseph Abbott on Feb 4, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    The gigglesugar post does make me curious about what biological side-effects might be going on for you right now.

  • 7 jason on Feb 4, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Wow, haven’t checked on here in awhile, and now Mike is trying to commit suicide. Oh, Mike, you should listen to the wise men of our time; or if you don’t trust them (like I don’t), then listen to the wise guys of our time, like your buddy and fellow riffer Kevin Murphy, who wrote many years ago these words of wisdom (on an IRC chat):

    ” And our final question for the evening (apologies to all the great questions we received but didn’t have time to ask):
    to : Any words of insight or consolation with the impending end of MST3K on television coming up in a few months?

    Live and be wonderful.
    Eat less pork, the Buddha died from it.
    Oh, and keep circulating those tapes.”

    Do you want to turn out like Buddha??

    By the way,(not to be too encouraging of this) but just an aside: at my job, in the snack section, we sell gummy bacon; so if you’re looking for an appropriate dessert for the month, seek it out.

  • 8 Houndstooth Mind on Feb 4, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Seems like the Cook’s Illustrated tasters might not have the palet for real bacon appreciation. They seemed to like the chemically processed store bought brands more than the traditional stuff. Maybe you’ll be able to submit a rebuttal by the end of the month.

  • 9 Bacon Junky on Feb 4, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Have you tried Trader Joe’s apple smoked bacon? It’s excellent… and I’m pretty sure it could survive a faceoff with almost any other bacon.

  • 10 Nick Fechter on Feb 4, 2009 at 2:45 pm


  • 11 j. cunningham on Feb 4, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    go all michael jacobs on jimmy dean bacon…. eat some corn

  • 12 yanni on Feb 4, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    You eat bacon during your workout?


  • 13 Ryan on Feb 4, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Your wife gave you that? How high is your life insurance plan?

  • 14 Kim on Feb 4, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Peh! Cooks Illustrated…never trust a magazine with bacon (or any food for that matter).

  • 15 Ginger on Feb 4, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    The other reason for the bacon bits tasting bad? “70% less fat”, my friend.

  • 16 sanddog on Feb 4, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Bacon is manna from heaven. I mean really… fat & Protein in a tasty little package.

    What more could you want?

  • 17 Ed on Feb 4, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    That bacon salt is a whole bucket of awesome, but don’t shake it on too heavy. It packs a punch!

  • 18 kncannon on Feb 4, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Michael J Nelson, did you see this:

    What a way to start up your bacon fueled day!

  • 19 OxfordProle on Feb 4, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Dear sweet Jesus, it’s beautiful. I MUST HAVE ONE!

  • 20 deadlevelbest on Feb 4, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Did anyone else hear James Hetfield singing “Bacon in the Jarrrrr” while reading the last paragraph?

  • 21 Kim on Feb 4, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Mike, just thought you’d like to know, my brother, my boss and the One Step Beyond teen group from my Church (save for one anti-pork extremist) are all totally behind your noble bacon quest.

  • 22 Chris Hughes on Feb 4, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Applewood smoked is usually the John Wayne of bacons.

  • 23 Scott on Feb 4, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    All the profit from my pre-ordering MST3k vol 14 on Amazon is going to a noble cause, I see.

    > Applewood smoked is usually the John Wayne of bacons.
    What would the Joe Don Baker of bacons be? Maybe some Nodine’s smokehouse 10 clove garlic bacon?

  • 24 Houndstooth Mind on Feb 5, 2009 at 12:40 am

    Inspirational images for the quest.

  • 25 Vince on Feb 5, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Bacon on the go, huh? Not everyday you see a guy working out and occasionally taking a break to have a piece of bacon from a jar. At least the sweet bacony smell will follow you everywhere now.

  • 26 Ben on Feb 5, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Now, since bacon doesn’t come from the face of the pig, shouldn’t be a “bacon back-off”?

  • 27 Mike Finley on Feb 5, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Mike, if you’re stuck for bacon ideas and wanna shake things up a bit…

    Well, look no further

  • 28 Middle Path on Feb 5, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Buddha died from eating mysterious blacksmith-shop pork that had been sitting unrefridgerated for many hours.

    As long as Mike keeps his pork stored properly, he will be fine.

  • 29 Adam on Feb 5, 2009 at 7:14 am

    Bridget is ACTIVELY AIDING your bacon quest?

    You’re a lucky man, Mike Nelson.

  • 30 Chinese Porkman on Feb 5, 2009 at 7:15 am

    Just made breakfast, filled the bottom of a baking pan with mushrooms, put strips of bacon over top of them, put in oven @400 until mostly-crispy. Made omlette with bacon-infused mushrooms and bacon, cooked in skillet with bacon grease. Extra bacon on the side. Lots of fresh ground pepper on exerything, glass o’ grapefruit juice.

    Thank you for inspiration.

  • 31 Mike Nelson on Feb 5, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Brought a tear to my eye.

    Lord, I miss eggs.

  • 32 Lord Bob on Feb 5, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Is it safe to say we’re not going to see this month end by Mrs. Nelson putting Mike on a vegan detox diet, then?

  • 33 OxfordProle on Feb 5, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Mike! Are you weakening?! “I miss eggs?!” Rubbish! Snap out of it, man, bacon needs you as much as you need it!

  • 34 amber henley on Feb 5, 2009 at 8:54 am

    You have got to go to Walmart and pick up Wright Brand Applewood Bacon. It is thick sliced and I SWEAR SWEAR SWEAR the flavor is amazing! We cook with it in everything – beans, we wrap everything we put on the grill…the smoke flavor is subtle – and just right!!

    I’m going to send you some Wright Brand Bacon for your February Quest – !!!!

    My family is ADDICTED to Wright Brand!!!

  • 35 Laura on Feb 5, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Ever had Eggbake, Mike? You can make it with onions, hash browns and an egg yoke with TONS of sliced bacon pieces in it. The recipe my mom uses is a bit secret, but if you look up Bacon Eggbake on Google, you’ll find a lot :D .

  • 36 Mike Nelson on Feb 5, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Your bacon passion is infectious. I will be trying some.

  • 37 Chinese Porkman on Feb 5, 2009 at 10:34 am

    For lunch I did not want to waste the fine mushroomy bacon grease in the baking pan so I dredged some chicken in egg and fried onion bits and baked it in the grease (carefully turning once). It has much bacon flavor if little bacon substance.

    After chicken is done I set pan on uneven surface so now I have a pan-corner of mushroomy, fried-oniony chicken/bacon grease. It is golden brown and would probably make a fine sauce on its own.

    I think I will use it to make a roux tonight. Maybe for Oysters Bienville…

  • 38 Houndstooth Mind on Feb 5, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Like I said, no physical harm. Just boredom and the risk of becomming extremely sick of sacred bacon.

  • 39 NanoRiffite on Feb 5, 2009 at 10:52 am

    This way, when she gets a big box of chocolates for Valentines day, she’ll be able to eat them all because Mike’s on the bacon-only diet.

    And of course, the chances of her getting a big box of chocolates also went up by her contribution to the bacon quest.

  • 40 Nancy Lebovitz on Feb 5, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Is some insanely intense writing about eating four pounds of bacon so as to be sure that one has had enough.

  • 41 jason on Feb 5, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Mmmmmmm- mysterious pooorrrk…

  • 42 Houndstooth Mind on Feb 5, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Do you think maybe we love bacon so much because few of us truly ever reach the bacon quotient discussed in the exerpt? I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that part of bacon’s allure is that it always leaves you wanting more. Very few people truly ever have “enough bacon” so it always leaves us wanting more.

  • 43 john aka schwein on Feb 5, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    So awesome! If I could bear your children, I would. Since I can’t, I offer you one of my friends who can

  • 44 Sarah on Feb 5, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Ack! I was sure your wife wouldn’t aid in this quest! Though I’d probably support my husbar in some similar endeavour but I’d get tired of it in a couple weeks and force feed him corn or something.

  • 45 Wendy Plauda on Feb 5, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Oh my… The Pioneer Press posted a story on this…

    Did I not feed you well enough in college??

  • 46 The New York City Math Teacher on Feb 5, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Have you heard of the bacon martini?

    The flavorants in smoked bacon are fat-soluble, so they are soluble in alcohol. Take your bacon and marinate it in vodka or gin for a few hours, then strain. Put the vodka or gin in the freezer to solidify the fat from the bacon, strain again, and build your bacontini.

  • 47 InTheBaconWithDinah on Feb 5, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    May I suggest the bacon straw for the bacontini. After you can have alcohol of course.

    Wrap bacon around a thick chopstick and deep fry. Excellent with a Bloody Mary.

    Got the idea from Kevbo.

  • 48 NR Farmer on Feb 11, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Trader Joe’s Applewood smoked bacon most likely is Niman Ranch bacon under their private label

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