Of the 2,600 specialty-food companies from around the world displaying their wares at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City - and the Javits Center in Manhattan has miles of aisles packed with the latest in chocolate, oils, vinegars, teas, coffees, and the like - there is only one company selling spreadable bacon:
The Bacon Jams, based in Philadelphia.
Of course, Philadelphia is the home of spreadable bacon.
From Sunday through Tuesday, June 30, thousands of food retailers and wholesalers at the trade show will pass The Bacon Jams' booth, featuring glass jars of "original" flavor, red chile and garlic, and black pepper, bearing the logo of a pig wearing sunglasses jamming on a guitar.
But why does the world need Bacon Jams?
"Because you need to be able to put bacon on more things," said Bruce Kramer, a mild-mannered former software engineer and home-brewer who was noodling around with a chef friend in his West Chester-area kitchen one day more than three years ago. From a recipe found on the Internet, they cooked down bacon and blended it with beer, sugar, and a few other ingredients and made it into a spread. When he served it on jalapenos to his Eagles tailgate buddies, "they all said, 'You should sell this.' "
Not that easy to do, it turns out.
Setting up a food-manufacturing business is a series of challenges and headaches. Since Bacon Jams is a meat product - about a half-pound of bacon goes into each jar - the USDA needs to certify the process for wholesale. All this takes money and a commercial kitchen.
Through an early partner who dropped out, Kramer got to Mike Oraschewsky of the city's Point Breeze section, who owns Conshohocken Cafe. They then went the Kickstarter route, initially seeking $8,000 but raising nearly $12,000. They took jars to the Norfolk Virginia Bacon Fest in fall 2013, and then to the Christmas Village at LOVE Park in Center City. They appeared several times on the holy grail of retailers, QVC.