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What Our Bacon Intake Says About the Economy


How to profit from the booming sales of the salty pig product.

Stop the presses, folks -- your world is about to be rocked.

Take a look at this headline from Scott Hume's "Data Confirm Sharp Increase in Bacon on Burgers and More."

Yes, it's true. A study by venerable Chicago research firm Mintel, commissioned by, shows that "menu items of all types that include bacon are up 26.5%" since 2005.

But the gripping statistics don't stop there.

The report goes on to inform us that "the number of bacon-topped burgers at all 580 restaurants in its Menu Insights database soared from 424 in 2005 to 576 in 2009, a 35.8% increase."

Wow. Really, just…wow. Enough with the op-eds on the stimulus package. Stop with the hand-wringing over Wall Street compensation. Will Detroit exist in 10 years?

Who cares? Bacon!

Hume points out that the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery chain has just added what they call a "Sassy Pepper Jack Burger" to the menu, which boasts a generous helping of crisp bacon.

Hardee's (CKR) recently debuted their Bacon Cheddar Fries.

And Wendy's (WEN) is so amped up by their new Applewood Smoked Bacon, they've set up a special Twitter account: @urBaconMeCrazy.

What does this mean to you as an investor?

For starters, the better your returns, the more Bennigan's Black & Bleu Bacon Burgers and McDonald's (MCD) Angus Bacon & Cheese Burgers you can buy.

One way to profit may be to take a look at Smithfield Foods (SFI), the largest pork producer in the US. For the fiscal second quarter ended Nov. 1, the company reported a loss of 17 cents a share, handily beating analyst expectations of a loss of 39 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

According to a statement from CEO Larry Pope, Smithfield's "packaged meats business continued to deliver record profits in the second quarter. This is the part of the business we have focused on and it is repeatedly delivering superior results."

Houston fund manager and Minyanville professor Ryan Krueger thinks people are drawn to bacon right now because, in his words, it's a "recessionary version of the truffle."

Brian Dimarco, former account director for Burger King (BKC) at now-defunct advertising agency DMB&B, says, "Bacon is the ultimate comfort food. In times of stress and economic trouble, eating bacon is like being swaddled in comforting fat."

Author Sarah Katherine Lewis has a different take. She wrote, "Bacon is the cocaine of the '00s, a visible sign of decadent rebellion."

She may be onto something. Bacon actually does have properties that make the human body crave it -- good news for anyone with a position in Applebee's (DIN), which offers something called the Fire Pit Bacon Burger.

Elin Roberts, science communications manager at the Centre for Life education center in Newcastle, England, told the Telegraph newspaper that "The smell of sizzling bacon in a pan is enough to tempt even the staunchest of vegetarians. There's something deeper going on inside. It's not just the idea of a tasty snack. There is some complex chemistry going on."


Yep. Have you ever heard of the "Maillard Reaction"?

You have?


Well, for all those who haven't, here's what it is:

The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar in bacon reacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acids contained in the meat to release physiologically pleasurable smells and flavors.

That's why bacon's not going away anytime soon.

And it's never going away for this gal, unless she's got one hell of a laser surgeon:

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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