Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Everything Should Taste Like Bacon"...and the Kof-K and OU Rabbis Say Okay

If you keep kosher but always had a hankerin' for the taste of bacon, a new line of products by J&D Foods should satisfy your craving.  Starting with bacon flavored salt (in 9 flavors) and moving on to bacon flavored popcorn, bacon flavored mayonnaise, bacon flavored ranch dressing, bacon flavored lip balm, and bacon flavored envelopes (yes, envelopes!) two "regular guys who love grilling and football" and a dream to make everything taste like bacon did just that.

They took their products to the Kof-K, one of the leading and most respected kosher certification agencies, who blessed their whole product line and granted them the coveted seal of kashrut.

As company namesakes Justin and Dave put it on their website,
Fortunately, there is no such thing as eternal damnation in the Jewish faith. If you keep kosher, the good news is that all of J&D's products are Kof-K certified. Hickory, Peppered, Jalapeno, Maple, Applewood and Mesquite Bacon Salts are Kof-K Parve, while Original, Natural, and Cheddar Bacon Salts along with Regular and Lite Baconnaise are Kof-K Dairy.
We decided to review the product line from the perspective of someone who has never tasted real bacon.  Of course, there's no way to tell if it's the same as the real thing.  But we tried to see how it measures up in flavor.

We tried to get reactions to the products during family gatherings and kiddush in shul on Chanukah.   Opinions are divided between two populations.  One group always wanted to taste the forbidden bacon and found nirvana when General Mills' BacO's chips and bits first appeared in 1966.  The other group can't stand the smell and wouldn't touch anything that had anything that smelled like bacon in it.

For the anti-bacon bunch, none of the products that we tried could get to first base.  For the BacO's enthusiasts, the Bacon Salts were appealing in that they added a tasty smoky flavor to soups and salads.

In our opinion, the best tasting product in the line is the Bacon Popcorn, which comes packed three microwaveable envelopes to a box and is very difficult to stop munching.

We wish that the company had done some more consumer research among kosher consumers before formulating the salts and choosing the labels for the bottles.  We found it confusing that some of the salts are pareve and some are dairy, and the designation appears on the backs of the bottles in tiny, almost unreadable type.  You'd have to be very careful in storing these bottles on a kitchen shelf to avoid picking up a dairy salt (e.g. Original or Natural) and sprinkling it on a meat dish.

This is a problem that is not unique to J&D Foods.  We've always felt that Morningstar Farms should have made all of their veggie burgers pareve so they could be put on a grill with other foods when friends and family come over for a barbecue on the deck.

As it is, most of the J&D bacon flavored foods contain milk.  We wish they didn't, because we would be inclined to use them mainly at meat meals. The Hickory and Peppered salts are Kof-K pareve.  All of the others salts are certified Kof-K dairy. For anyone who needs gluten-free foods, the Natural salt is gluten-free. J&D says all of its products are going Kof-K, but for now, the samples we have of Baconnaise and Popcorn are OU-Dairy and OU-Pareve.

Here's a video interview with the company founders from ABC TV when the product was first introduced last year.

A tip of the kippah to Esther Kustanowitz for first calling attention to this product line in her blog, My Urban Kvetch.

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