At last Saturday Night’s grand finale event of Baconfest at UIC Forum, we heard a man sing his song “Pork-elujah” to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and we saw Wednesday Journal’s own Communications & Marketing Project Manager Alicia Plomin and her friend Michael Spitler take home Best Costume awards as Super Bacon Lady and her Side(kick) of Bacon.
Plomin was outfitted in a red cape (of course a superhero needs a cape!), high red stockings emblazoned with the magic word “Bacon,” a belt of bacon strips and a superhero suit bearing the words “Super Bacon Lady” and a large “BL.” On her face, bacon-themed temporary tattoos; on her head, a Wonder Woman-type tiara. Spitler’s Bacon Boy Wonder get-up was comprised of two large, fabric bacon strips running vertically down his body and a baseball cap with bacon strip horns poking out the sides. Overall, an awesome pair of baconites.
“I didn’t even know there was a costume competition,” gushed Plomin. “I was going to wear this outfit anyway.”
Thus it is at Baconfest, that’s the kind of overflowing enthusiasm you see everywhere at this annual event, where there were many costumes, many t-shirts extolling endless bacon love, tattoos of bacon strips in various compositions and some simply spelling out bacon, and everyone, everyone joyously eating the cured and smoked belly of hog.
Bacon has become more than just an accompaniment to eggs in the morning or lettuce/tomato in a sandwich. Bacon has become a signifier, a battle cry, a gasp of carnal love from the bacon-powered multitudes who unabashedly proclaim, if just for one day, “To hell with a reduced fat diet. I don’t care if there’s a lot of sodium in it. I just want a delicious flavor in my mouth. I want bacon. Give me bacon!”
At Baconfest, there were over 170 chefs preparing a range of bacon-based bites. We enjoyed an eggroll-like “cigar” of ground pork belly, fried, and accompanied by a mixture of cayenne pop rocks, pulverized Jolly Rancher cherry candy and tobacco flakes (rendered sweet by several washes in simple syrup). We also enjoyed a chicken-fried “steak” of bacon with bacon-flecked waffles, bacon-infused butter and bacon gravy. The winner of the competition was a Slim Jim type sausage that was made of bacon and that elevated this gas station snack to a become a food that would not be out of place in a fine dining restaurant (it was prepared by a Chef at Michelin-starred Vie in Western Springs).
At this year’s Baconfest, over 4,500 people attended, some of whom paid $200 to eat bacon for four hours, but it was more than just the eating of bacon that brought people here – rather, it was the lust for bacon, what it represents, and the happiness it brings.
And for Plomin, who also won tickets to next year’s Baconfest as well as five pounds of bacon, it was, she said, “Pretty much the best day of my life.”