“Everyone loves bacon. Even vegans.” – Ted Allen

Make no mistake about it — I will never become a vegetarian, unless they pass some rule allowing bacon as part of the daily diet. I don’t have anything against vegetarians, mind you; rather I sometimes wish I had the will-power to become a member of that elite club. But I’ve never met a pig I didn’t like, and so I trudge forth as an eater of the meat.

In the past few years, America has seen a bacon craze; it’s everywhere from our cocktails to our mayonnaise to even our band-aids and, I’m sorry to say, our dental floss which I think is taking things just a little too far. And while I don’t have hard facts or statistics, I don’t know that there’s another food that has been idolized as much as the salty, fatty, crispy, chewy bacon that lines our breakfast plates, fills our sandwiches, and surrounds our meatloaves. To me, bacon is the great unifier.

I eat bacon a lot, which probably explains why my weight Yo-Yos as much as it does, but it’s something I’m entirely unwilling to give up. It’s just easier for me to attend the gym regularly.

There are two instances in my life, however, that really stand out as actual Bacon Experiences. I can’t really say why these particular strips affected me the way they did, but in all the bacon I’ve consumed (and I’d say it’s safe to say since I began eating solid foods that number could be dozens of pounds) they play like feature films in my memory bank. The first is a fairly unassuming BLT you can purchase practically any time of day from the East Wind Drive-In in Cascade Locks, Oregon. It’s a blink and you miss it town, with little else beyond the East Wind, a greasy burger joint, and a hotel on the Columbia River, but if you are driving through the northern part of Oregon at any point, you should stop in and say hello. [They also have these behemoth soft-serve ice cream cones that are made from the best soft-serve ice cream on the face of the earth, but this is about bacon and to my knowledge they don’t offer bacon ice cream. Yet.]

This isn’t a special BLT. I doubt they use gourmet bacon, their lettuce of choice is iceberg, which I typically hate, and they use plain old toasted white bread. But I think it’s the simplicity that makes this sandwich transcend all other BLTs that I’ve ever had or made. They also use about a pound of mayonnaise, which unquestionably ups the ante. Never mind that the bread tears up the inside of my mouth. Never mind that they put so much bacon on the sandwich that I wonder whether today is the day I’m going to have a heart attack. I love BLTs because of the East Wind.

The second is thick cut bacon at one of my favorite breakfast places, Elmer’s, which is Pacific Northwest specific, and yet another reason why the entire population should really be looking to Oregon as its Zion than anywhere else. Their bacon of choice is Daily’s Smokehouse Bacon, and it’s so thick and perfectly chewy and meaty that it’s successfully put all other bacon to shame in my book. I’ve honestly only had their bacon a handful of times — perhaps even as few as twice — but I suppose that’s what makes a good food so good. It stays with you, always, after eating it just once.

For now, I buy bacon at Costco. But someday I’ll have the budget to buy myself supreme cuts of cured meat — yeah, I’m the type of person whose dreams look a whole lot like that.