London - From the humble sandwich to an expensive salad, there are few dishes that don’t taste better with bacon. And now, the point has even been mathematically proven.
A massive number-crunching exercise has revealed that dishes with bacon really do taste better – and very few taste worse.
Tech magazine Wired teamed up with the Food Network to analyse 50 000 recipes and 906 539 comments on them.
Explaining how the results were calculated, Wired writer Cliff Kuang said: “First, we searched out all the recipes that fit a certain description – sandwiches, for example.
“Then, we calculated the average rating for those foods if they did not include the word ‘bacon’.
“We ran the numbers again using only recipes that did include bacon. Of all the foods we analysed, bacon lends the most improvement to sandwiches.”
Many other dishes also got a boost when bacon was added – when the data was analysed, those with with a rasher or two included got better scores.
There are various theories as to why – not least because of the crunch and flavour bacon adds to sandwiches. It’s also a good addition to salads, providing it doesn’t go soggy.
Recipes with spinach and asparagus were all rated better when they contained bacon, for example.
But it wasn’t all good news. There are foods that get worse with bacon – namely pasta (particularly in creamy sauces) and, rather unsurprisingly, desserts.
The data analysis also gave a fascinating snapshot into the most popular foods through the last few years.
Two major trends are the surge in popularity of cupcakes and gluten-free products since 2009, while salted caramel and sriacha (hot sauce from Thailand) have soared in popularity since 2011.
On the other hand, portobello mushrooms and low carb diets were big in 2007, but have nose-dived since then.
The trends were calculated by findings the total number of reviews for each food. Wired and the Food Network then calculated what percentage of the recipe reviews came in each quarter since 2007.
But the results clearly show one thing: bacon has always been popular.
WHY DOES BACON MAKE US SALIVATE?
Previous research has pinpointed the exact chemical reaction that makes bacon smell so tempting.
Called the Maillard reaction, it occurs between an amino acid and a reducing sugar when heated.
The acid and sugar react to release a huge amount of smells and flavour that make us salivate.
Elin Roberts, of the Centre for Life education centre in Newcastle, explained the reaction releases hundreds of smells and flavours, but it is the smell which reels in the eater. “If we couldn’t smell, then taste wouldn’t be the same.” – Daily Mail