Global finances, zombies, nukes—these are apocalypses I can deal with (in order: stockpile guns, non-perishables, and gold; join a multicultural band of Southern survivors led by a cop and his insufferable wife; kiss my ass goodbye). But a worldwide bacon famine, I am not prepared to endure. Earlier this month, Britain’s National Pig Association declared that a shortage of pork and bacon is now “unavoidable.” (I’m neither familiar with the NPA, nor am I British, but anyone who launches a “Save Our Bacon” campaign must have their priorities in the right place.) Given this dire outlook for 2013, it’s time we begin to ready ourselves and take a cold, flavorless look at what awaits us in the future.
1. Hard Decisions
The NPA is predicting the cost of pork may double in Europe, and in August, U.S. prices reached record highs. That means millions of us will be priced out of the Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast, or forced to choose between crisp, greasy pig strips or paying for health insurance. As I believe that bacon is an essential part of a balanced diet, that’s a no-brainer. Goodbye, Blue Cross. Somehow, I suspect Obamacare is responsible for all of this.
2. Crumbling Institutions
I still remember the day when a colleague came rushing into the office with breaking news—Barclay Prime had added Neuske’s to its menu. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. We hurried over to the Rittenhouse Square steakhouse and ordered a round of beers and two sides of this glorious specialty bacon. While it was the most money I’ve probably ever spent on the least amount of food and alcohol, it was also the greatest happy hour of my life. My friend attended college in Wisconsin, where Neuske’s was founded in 1933, and was well-versed in its varieties—smoked, peppered, triple-thick butcher cut. This company and others like it are every bit as important to the fabric of our society as the auto industry, perhaps more so. You can take a bus to work, but you can’t make scrapple without swine. And whither goest thou, Taylor’s pork roll? Please join me in urging our legislators to support a bacon bailout next year.
3. Fallen Heroes
Along with Captain Chesley Sullenberger, Tim Tebow and the YouTube kid who was high after his trip to the dentist, one of the greatest American heroes of the past decade is Parks & Recreation’s Ron Swanson. His love of freedom, woodworking and meat is something all men can only aspire to equal. For anyone who’s walked into a Whole Foods or a macrobiotic smoothie café and felt the urge to ask to see their venison steaks, you will appreciate his assessment of “vegan bacon.” Like Swanson, the thought of a baconless world makes me want to throw a fit and run off into the woods, hopeless and alone (skip to 1:27).
4. Complete and Utter Societal Collapse
Follow my logic here. Every fast-food chain sells bacon cheeseburgers. Wendy’s took the concept one delicious step further with the creation of the Baconator, two quarter-pound patties lovingly embraced by strips of applewood-smoked glory. Without bacon as an option, customers who demand a 970-calorie belly-bomb will be forced to look elsewhere. Pledges to “have it your way” will ring false. All those billions that McDonald’s has served will turn to Taco Bell, or worse, to soy products. Franchises close, national unemployment reaches 20 percent, and a full-blown depression descends upon us. Ten years from now, when we’re all huddled in underground bunkers eating Spam and reminiscing about what life was like on The Surface World, remember you heard it here first.
Perhaps there’s really nothing we can do in anticipation of the coming Great Bacon Famine. Much like Ireland in the mid-1800s, I fear our dependence on cured pork will lead to the starvation of roughly a quarter of our population (speaking as someone who won’t eat anything green unless there are bacon bits sprinkled on top). More optimistic estimates suggest we’ll just have a lot of angry carnivores who turn to Slim Jims for comfort. Either way, the only disaster-preparedness plan for this gastronomic catastrophe is to follow in Ron Swanson’s footsteps and start eating all the bacon you can get your meat-loving hands on.