Bacon Love Story: A Man, A Dream, A Salted Meat

295897725_97be9bd1a5_01Brooke’s husband, like many sensible people, loves bacon. As a gift, she bought him a subscription to the Bacon of the Month Club. For a few months, they received fantastic bacon and whimsical bacon-related merchandise through the mail, just as promised. Then, suddenly, things went awry in mail-order bacon paradise.

Brooke was disappointed in the Club, and wrote this amusing letter explaining her disappointment:

Hi,

I hate to have to write a note like this, because I think that you have a terrific concept, but my experience with the Bacon of the Month Club was, well, far less than stellar. I bought a 6-month membership (in December 2008) for my husband, who is a total foodie and was delighted. The “welcome package” is adorable and awesome. The membership itselfÖnot so awesome. For the price, I was expecting/looking forward to a bit of variety (instead, we received applewood-smoked bacon three months in a row ñ tasty, to be sure, but also repetitive and easily found at our own grocery stores and farmers’ markets here in Missouri). We also received a strange, super-preserved Hungarian bacon, which no amount of Googling could explain, and which we alternately described as “orangeish” and “creepy.” On your Web site, Bobby Flay expresses his glee over receiving bacon from “very small mom-and-pop suppliers in places like Kentucky, Alabama, and Missouri.” If I were to describe this particular bacon in a Flay-esque way, I would say it came from “very large, nondescript bacon factories in places like Kaposvar, Szeged, and Zalaegerszeg.”

Needless to say: I don’t plan to renew the membership or to give BOTM as a gift to anyone else. But I also wasn’t going to write a note.

I changed my mind when yesterday’s bacon (the final shipment in the membership) arrivedÖ warm. And bobbing beneath a melted cold-pack. This is probably more a shipping issue, but I wanted to let you know. We threw the bacon out, of course, but it was kind of a bummer to see that the last shipment was completely ruined. At the beginning of our membership, I recommended the club to several friends, and now I feel sort of bad about that, because I have visions of people paying good money to receive sad, half-thawed bacon. And while Half-Thawed Bacon would be an excellent name for a jam band, it is not an excellent business practice.

Thanks in advance for your attention to this matter.

Regards,

Brooke Foster

Dan Philips, “Captain Bacon” of the Bacon of the Month Club, sent this delightfully whimsical reply to Brooke. It was almost enough to make her want to re-subscribe to BOTM if her wallet had been able to support it. Instead, she shared the message with Consumerist, and thus with the world:

Brooke,
I am the owner and founder of the Bacon of the Month Club and your note made me very sad. My life mission is to share my love of bacon and that is the point of the club: To give bacon love. That we failed with you and your gift to your husband is terrible and I apologize. We would be happy to refund the balance of your membership or replace bacons you did not like. Our records show that you’ve received the following bacons:

January: Vande Rose Farms Applewood Smoked bacon
February: Gatton Farms “Dan’s Special Cure”
March: Bende & Son Hungarian Kolozsveri Bacon
April: Johnston County Ham Dry Sugar Cured Bacon
May: North Country Applewood Smoked Bacon
June: Newsom’s Old Mill Store Hickory Smoked Country Bacon

Only two are applewood and the North Country is one of my most favorite bacon and I don’t think it is widely available and if it is, I’d happily eat it any time.

My Mother grew up in Tennessee on a farm. Her family had pigs and made bacon and ham and sausage and everything else you make from a pig. They were not wealthy but they lived within their means and the farm supported the family. Cured pig was an important staple. She told me that they had a cured ham on their counter of their kitchen every day of the year. They sliced it for sandwiches, used it as seasoning for veggies, cooked with it, made red eye gravy with it, canned it for winter. In order for cured meats to last a long time, as the family needed, as poor southern families need, they developed a tradition of a very salty cure. She told me that they never had refrigeration and kept the hams and bacons out in the kitchen. Most bacon is shelf stable so even if it gets warm, you can simply put it in the fridge and it will return to the way you like it to look. It is not necessarily spoiled, just looks greasy.

My Mother married an orthodox Jewish doctor (another story), left the “holler” in Appalachia where she lived, and they moved to San Francisco where he became a resident. My Mother cooked bacon for us every morning and it was years before he started eating bacon, but he did. In one of the great coincidences of my life, when I was traveling in Illinois, a friend gave me a package of bacon made in the style of that made in Kolozsv·r, Hungary. Well not only was my Dad from Hungary, but he was from Kolozsv·r. It turns out that Kolozsv·r is as famous for making cured pork as is Italy with prosciutto. I never knew about this. As it turns out, it was Katie Couric’s favorite bacon when her reporter came to visit us. I fully accept that you did not like it, but in my humble view, it is a superb bacon and we received more fan letters than most bacons. But, you were not alone. There were those who found it too spicy. Also, many of our customers do not like slab bacon so we almost always try to send sliced. But, I don’t think our bacons are corporate or soulless. They are the opposite. Again, I fully accept your taste and judgment.

If you have decided to leave, while it makes me sad, I can only accept it. If there is anything I can do to make it worth your while to stay, I would and if I can make your departure more fun and leave you with a better taste in your mouth, I would. May I replace the bacons you did not like?

We do have thousands of happy customers so I like to think that your experience may have been just bad luck and anomalous.

Thanks for taking the time to write and please let us know what you’d like to do.

All the best,

Dan Philips
aka Captain Bacon

Do you hear that? Their bacons have soul. It’s a heartwarming, crispy-fried tale of a company wanting to make things up to an unhappy customer. Even if the bacon love story is a canned response, it still makes customers smile and makes the company seem a bit more human.

Bacon of the Month Club [The Grateful Palate]
(Photo: sappymoosetree)