1999: What a time to be alive. The Matrix, Pokémon, The Sopranos, and Britney Spears. A global panic attack about Y2K. The Euro was created. Furbies abound. Brandi Chastain ripping her shirt off at the Women’s World Cup. Wild times! While time travel isn’t an option for us, pork belly just might be reclaiming to its ’90s identity. Sales for the meat slab are at their lowest since 1999, just 41 cents per pound, according to a Bloomberg report. For context, that’s down from 93 cents per pound just two weeks ago. Hm, what could’ve happened in the past two weeks to turn an industry entirely on its head?
The answer, of course, is COVID-19. While the beef and egg industries are enjoying bumps from lockdown shopping, sales of pork belly—the cut where bacon comes from—have tanked. However, it’s not that the Great Bacon Boom has necessarily come to a halt. Rather, the way we buy and consume bacon has changed in recent years. According to market consultant Bob Brown, Americans aren’t buying the popular breakfast meat for home cooking as much anymore. Instead, bacon’s found its way onto every restaurant menu in America, from fast food burger chains to upscale eateries. So the pork belly plummet isn’t really about us suddenly not being into bacon mid-pandemic; it’s about mass restaurant closings, and thus big slashes to bulk food orders.
All that said, we think it’s time to bring bacon back into home kitchens. We’ll teach you how to make the best stovetop bacon ever. Or, whip up some bacon jam to gussy up your home-cooked burgers. Then whip up a batch of bacon shortbread with all that extra fat. C’mon, do you really have anything better to do?