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Healthy Resolutions are Over; Bacon’s Back

Filed under LTO, Menu

Upscale burgers and bacon keep getting written off as flash-in-the-cast-iron-pan fads. In December 2012, Josh Ozersky wrote in Time that “bacon as a trend is a monster that won’t die, and I can’t understand why.”

The Works' Six Degrees of K'vin Bacon burger

The Works’ Six Degrees of K’vin Bacon Burger

That was two years ago and the trend has only picked up speed since then. According to data from Statista, in 2012 a whopping 19.6% (the largest share of the total) of U.S. households reported having eaten 2 lbs. of bacon in the previous 30 days. That rose to 20.8% in 2013 and 21.6% in 2014. The faddish bacon-flavored lip balms and bacon-studded cupcakes may finally have faded, but bacon’s popularity isn’t diminishing.

The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro understands why. The Canadian chain next week will be rolling out to its 26 locations an array of new reasons why bacon’s back and better than ever. Building on a promotion it ran a year ago, The Works’ “Believe in Baconism II” introduces three specialty burgers, two sides and a shake, all blessed with bacon.

Six Degrees of K’vin Bacon does indeed have bacon six ways: an 8-oz. bacon and beef patty topped with Canadian bacon, smoked bacon, bacon ketchup, bacon-roasted garlic aïoli and bacon sticks, plus lettuce and tomato for $15.31 (prices in Canadian dollars).

An updated favorite from last year is the Getting Piggier With It: the 8-oz. bacon and beef patty with Canadian bacon, Cheddar, smoked bacon, bacon ketchup and crunchy onion strings ($15.47). The When Pigs Fly has a bacon-and-beer-seasoned chicken breast that’s grilled and topped with smoked bacon, house-made bacon jam an onion ring, lettuce and tomato ($15.31).

Arooga's Gouda Bacon Grind burger

Arooga’s Gouda Bacon Grind Burger

On the side are Bacon-Wrapped Wrecking Balls (bacon-wrapped Cheddar-and-potato balls with bacon roasted-garlic aïoli and bacon sticks) ($9.91). For those who one more bacon goodies there are fresh-cut fries covered with bacon seasoning and topped with bacon roasted-garlic aïoli, bacon and green onions ($2.21). To drink? The Bacontella Shake (Nutella blended with smoked bacon and Canadian ice cream and topped with whipped cream and, you betcha, bacon).

The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro has established itself as one of the most inventive burger-focused concepts on either side of the border. Its permanent burger menu includes 50 choices and it LTOs last year included the “Get Stuff’d” stuffed burgers in September and beer-infused burgers last October in addition to the inaugural Baconism menu.

On this side of the border, the nine-unit Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar chain based in Harrisburg, Pa., is mounting its own bacon blitz next week by adding a new line of Bacon Grind Burgers: patties that are 65% ground steak and 35% ground bacon (Arooga’s regular burger patty is Wagyu Kobe beef).

The limited-time lineup, starting at $9.99, includes The Original Bacon Grind Cheeseburger (just cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and a pickle); The Breakfast Grind Burger (melted American cheese, fried egg, applewood-smoked bacon sandwiched in a Belgian waffle and served with maple syrup); The BBQ Bacon Grind Burger (with house Hickory Smoked Honey barbecue sauce and pepper-Jack cheese); The Bacon Boss Grind Burger (more bacon, house-made chipotle ketchup, mayo and American cheese); The Smoked Gouda Grind Burger (with horseradish mayo, smoked Gouda, applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickle); The “Signature” Bacon Grind Burger (melted ghost-Jack cheese, guacamole and fried egg); and The Big Man Grind Burger (two Bacon Grind patties; Cheddar, American, Swiss and Provolone cheeses; more bacon; house Cajun Ranch Sauce; lettuce; tomato; red onion and a pickle).

Last year, Arooga’s signed two separate franchise agreements: a 15-unit agreement with the Mohegan Tribe for New England and a three-unit agreement that will move it into Chicago (this summer) and Phoenix.

The independent burger bars are bacon fans, too. This week’s special at Baldwin Street Burger in Whitby, Ont., offers choice of patty with house-cured peameal bacon, apple, field greens, red onion and a maple-Dijon aïoli. There’s blueberry bacon (along with blue cheese, blue Jack, arugula, tomato grilled onion and rémoulade) on the new Royal Blue burger at Eden Burger Bar in Glendale, Calif.