I’m not a fan of camps. You’re secluded in the outdoors with a bunch of people you don’t really know and there are bugs and trust falls and you have to pretend like it’s such a relief not to have phone service when really all you want to do is stalk your ex on Instagram.
Allow me to amend my previous statement — I WAS not a fan of camps, until I heard about one so wonderful, so magical, so delicious, I can only imagine Heaven uses it as a blueprint. It is Camp Bacon in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and it is the happiest place in the world.
The five-day camp is organized by Zingerman’s, a specialty food store in Ann Arbor. Events include the Camp Bacon Film Festival, which features short documentaries about “women in various corners of the Southern food space and includes concession snacks like Caramel Bacon Popcorn, Cuban Pork Zingers, and Bacon & Blue Dates. There is also the Camp Bacon Street Fair, which is open to the public, and the BACON BALL, and now I want nothing more than to be the Bacon Cinderella of the Bacon Ball and for Bacon Prince Charming to track me down thanks to the bacon slipper I left behind in my rush to sample some of the roasting pig.
The camp isn’t only about eating (though that’s obviously a big part of it). In the interest of giving campers’ arteries a break, there is also a wide array of speakers, from food historians, to chefs, to artists.
“Zingerman’s Camp Bacon is a food lovers camp,” the website says. “It is a food historians camp. It is a camp that fills your mind as much as your stomach. We love the taste of bacon, and don’t get us wrong, you will leave having tasted a lot of bacon, but we are there to share the story behind the bacon. We share with you new ways to appreciate bacon and talk about how what we feed the animal impacts the flavor of the meat you are eating.”
Although bacon has been around for a long time (preserving and salting pork dates back to 1500 B.C. in China) the fatty, salty strips have seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years. In 2013, U.S. bacon sales hit an all-time high of $4 billion. There is bacon chocolate, bacon formal wear, and even bacon vodka. While the exact reason for this explosion of bacon mania is unclear (it is easily a top three mania, just below Beatlemania, and leagues ahead of HulkOmania), a 2008 Salon article suggested it might have something to do with rebelling against an increasingly health-conscious society.
“Loving bacon is like shoving a middle finger in the face of all that is healthy and holy while an unfiltered cigarette smoulders between your lips,” Sarah Hepola writes.
Whatever the reason, I'm grateful. So grateful, I might even reconsider my pledge to never attend a camp.
Zingerman’s Camp Bacon takes place from May 31st to June 4th. Tickets are available here.