The Tragic Optimist

this may be the most shocking thing I’ve posted

I became a vegetarian 18 years ago at the young, idealistic age of 15. At the time, it was all about how I could save the world. In my simplified world view, if we stopped eating livestock that consumed far more resources than we got back in the form of protein, well, then we could feed the world. So yeah, simplistic, but hey, I plead being 15 years old. Since then, the reasons for being vegetarian have morphed – now it’s for environmental, sustainability and health reasons, and I’ve become a bit less strict in that I now eat fish and don’t mind things made with chicken stock, but still, I have not willingly eaten the flesh of land-dwelling animals in the greater part of 2 decades. That is, until last night.

The Minnesota State Fair is a big deal here. Absolute, serious, big deal. And it’s this week. We checked with Zoe’s doctor before scheduling her surgery to be sure that we could take her to the fair the weekend following the surgery. That’s how big a deal it is. One of the best parts of the fair is the crazy food – deep fried macaroni and cheese on a stick, deep fried twinkies on a stick, flash frozen ice creams, all the milk you can drink, really good cookies . . . It’s not the place to go if you’re looking to avoid food temptations. Each year, the vendors try to outdo each other with the craziest, yet still (nominally) edible, food items. Often of the deep-fried, on-a-stick theme.

Enter pig lickers, the chocolate-covered bacon phenomenon at this year’s fair, neither deep-fried, nor on-a-stick, yet still very much in the tradition of fair food.

As a chocolate lover, I was intrigued. For weeks leading up to the fair, I kept trying to convince Chris to try them. He was not so intrigued. It finally occurred to my that I was projecting my interest on to him, and if I really wanted to know how they tasted, I’d have to try them myself.

That’s right. I would end 18 years of no meat for a chocolate covered hunk of pig. I think that if they’d gotten bad reviews, I would have opted out, but they used really good chocolate, and really good bacon, and most people really gave it good reviews. Besides, if you’re going to go off the veggie wagon, even if just for a few minutes, shouldn’t you do it for something as crazy as chocolate-covered bacon?

Chris and I went last night with his family, and I admit, I wondered if I’d really go through with it. But then, there we were, in front of the Pig Lickers booth, and there was no turning back. I ordered the pig lickers and was handed the paper cup with half a dozen slices of bacon with one half dipped in chocolate.

chocolate covered big in a cup

yes, that's me, with chocolate-covered bacon in my mouth and a smile on my face.

They were.. well.. they tasted like really good, thick chocolate, with a nice salty crunch (I love chocolate and salty combinations), with a distinctly bacony flavor. It wasn’t actually bad, though it probably sounds bad. In fact, I think it was pretty good. I liked the combination. I ate all the chocolate covered pieces except for a couple of bites that Chris and his mom tried (that’s right, Chris refused to try them, until I told him I was going to eat them, then shamed by his wife, he decided he’d be willing to try a bite). I couldn’t eat the non-chocolate covered parts, didn’t even try. A couple of random people outside the shop asked me if they were good or not, I enjoyed answering that I was a vegetarian of 18 years and was eating them.

I was, however, not at all tempted to go back to eating meat, not even another order of the pig lickers. I think that will hold me for the next 18 years. Or at least until next year’s fair.

the beer helped

the beer helped

sweet, and salty!


  1. Wow…now THAT’s crazy! I can see how it would be good though…crispy bacon, smooth chocolate….

    I know several vegetarians that have one exception: bacon, so you’re not alone!

    I do miss the State Fair, but would probably be pretty bummed by the fact that I couldn’t eat the best stuff (tons of cold milk, deep fried macaroni & cheese on a stick…)…

    Glad you kids had fun! Probably more fun than our 44mile pain-fest today πŸ™‚

  2. Curtis

    As a representative of the Vegetarian Mafia, I’ll grant you a dispensation for this one. πŸ™‚

    I was a lot more stringent in college, too. Nowadays if I can’t see the meat I don’t worry too much about where the food might have encountered it. I think I could resist the chocolate-covered bacon, though, but I was never a big bacon fan even in my most enthusiastic meat-eating days.

  3. Drat. I missed that! I was so focused on getting the pronto pup and key lime pie on a stick that I didn’t even hear about the chocolate covered bacon!

    It doesn’t sound like you’re heading down the road of becoming a baco-vegetarian, but if you are and can’t wait until next year’s fair, I heard about these chocolate covered bacon bars awhile ago. They sound tempting.

    This is a great post.

  4. I have been hearing mixed things about the chocolate-covered bacon. But as the girl who doesn’t eat red meat unless it’s pork that has been fried in some way, I can’t argue with the concept AT ALL.

    (Here’s a fun one for you. Guess who no longer eats red meat? No, not me, I haven’t eaten it in ages. Guess again. You got it – my husband!)

  5. Chocolate covered bacon?!?! I have NEVER heard of that. And I thought I had seen (and tasted) everything that could possibly be put on a stick, dipped in chocolate and served at a fair.

    Mmmmm . . . I am intrigued. I do like salty with my sweet.

  6. May

    Bacon. Chocolate. Hmmmm. Well, it either had to be fabulous or foul, didn’t it?

  7. Heh. May, that’s true. If it were foul, I’d have a different (better?) story to tell, eh?

    Jamie, you need to come by MN some late Aug / early Sept and I’ll show you around the fair here. It’s definitely a fair not to be missed.

    Sarah, really? M gave up red meat? Whoa.

  8. ha ha!! that is soo great!! I have been swayed off the vegetrain wagon too! But its twinkles fault, all he wants is chicken! I don’t get it?? oh well. whatever baby wants, baby gets! ha ha.

  9. I think we could cure anyone of “vegatanarianism” with one well orchestrated trip to Smith & Wollenski’s. But these things are very sensative and have to be handeld by a professional. I better get over there tonight just to make sure that all is in order…


  10. LeAnn

    When I heard about the chocolate covered bacon I wondered, “Who would want to eat that?” I certainly did not think, “Well, I bet a vegetarian will want to try that!” You are quite interesting. I have added your blog to my bloglines account now!

    So, bacon and chocolate tastes good, huh? It just sounds so weird to me, and I am a meat eater.

  11. Lily

    Haha, I broke mine for turkey bacon >.>


  1. Pig Lickers : Eat. Drink. Better.
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