The pork industry is riding a wave of bacon love. People are literally eating it up. There is bacon ice cream, bacon-infused vodka, deepfried bacon, chocolate-dipped bacon, bacon-wrapped hot dogs filled with cheese, brioche bread pudding smothered in bacon sauce, hardboiled eggs coated in mayonnaise encased in bacon, bacon salt, bacon doughnuts/cupcakes/cookies, bacon mints, bacon gum and so much more.

What is it that makes bacon so irresistible? There’s actually a name for it: umami. “When we eat, we use all of our senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste) to form general judgments about food, but taste is the most influential in determining how delicious a food is,” says the Umami Information Center. “Conventionally, it has been thought that our sense of taste is comprised of four basic, or ‘primary,’ tastes, which cannot be replicated by mixing together any of the other primaries: sweet, sour, salt and bitter. However, it is now known that there is actually a fifth primary taste: umami.”

As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavors, most people don’t recognize umami when they encounter it, but it plays an important role in making food taste delicious. Cured pork is one of the primary umami-rich foods in the West.

As an industry, we can radiate in the bacon glow as it pops and sizzles its way to increased demand. We can capitalize on its popularity, while still encouraging people to enjoy it in moderation.

And while we’re on the subject, congratulations to Michael Cameneti, grand prize winner of the 2013 International Bacon Film Festival. His “Portrait of a Bacon Enthusiast” topped 132 films and captured the $11,000 grand prize. Go to YouTube and type in:”International Bacon Film Festival” to see Cameneti’s funny, clever film and the other finalists’ entries. The playlist was created by HormelBaconParty, sponsors of the Film Festival.

Make sure you have plenty of bacon on hand before watching!