Would You Try Schmacon, An All-Beef Bacon?

A few years ago, Howard M. Bender and a friend went out to grab some breakfast. But instead of getting pork bacon, they opted for the healthier option, ordering turkey bacon instead. But when it arrived at their table, they were disappointed: The turkey bacon was hard and dry and not like real bacon at all. And so Bender—a chef who had trained at the Culinary Institute of America—decided to come up with a better option. He spent three years formulating Schmacon, a whole-muscle, smoked and glazed beef bacon that just launched a Kickstarter campaign.

Bender makes it clear that Schmacon—which won the National Restaurant Association’s Food and Beverage Innovation (FABI) award in 2014—isn’t coming for your traditional pork bacon. “We weren’t trying to replace pork bacon when we were developing Schmacon,” Bender says in the Kickstarter video. “We’re looking at some of the alternatives that are out there and saying ‘You know what? You don’t need to eat turkey bacon anymore, because there’s a great alternative to your pork bacon that you can have for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.’”

Still, Bender points out that Schmacon has some advantages over pork bacon: It’s lower in calories, fat, and sodium than almost all of the pork bacons that are out on the market today,” he says. Schmacon is also all-natural and uncured with no nitrates.

So how does the stuff actually taste when compared with regular bacon? I grabbed a package of store brand pork bacon and noticed a few differences right off the bat: It was much easier to pull off strips of pork bacon from the mass than it was to get the Schmacon free—I tore more than a few strips and even ended up cooking a few stuck together. But Schmacon’s deep red color was much more appealing than the pork bacon’s light pink. Cooking the Schmacon took less than 10 minutes, and it perfectly achieved that wavy shape. And while Schmacon doesn’t taste that much like pork bacon, it is delicious, smoky-sweet and full of flavor (so full of flavor, in fact, that it brought to mind an easy-to-eat beef jerky). I inhaled it and left all but one piece of the pork bacon in the pan.

Schmacon is currently available in some restaurants, but if you’re Interested in trying it in your own home, contribute to the Kickstarter—$30 will get you a pack of Schmacon shipped directly to your door.

Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?

Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.


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