Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
Pig lickers are treats made by coating cooked bacon in chocolate, and then garnishing with chunks of sea salt, although some cooks leave the sea salt off. While this combination of foods might give some readers room for pause, it is in fact backed by a long history of combining sweet and savory foods. In Mexico, for example, chocolate mole sauces are used to dress chicken and pork dishes in some regions, and the famous fleur de sel caramels of France are made by sprinkling caramel with sea salt.
The flavor combination in pig lickers unites sweet, salty, and umami, or savory, in one mouthful. A cross-section should ideally be partly crunchy, from the bacon and the salt, and partly soft, as the chocolate starts to melt in the mouth. The combination of sweet and salty can be quite distinctive, especially when paired with the savory nature of the bacon. Variations on pig lickers include bacon coated in a candied maple syrup coating, and bacon chocolate chip cookies, which include chunks of cooked bacon in a classic chocolate chip cookie dough.
This food can vary widely in quality, depending on the base ingredients. Higher-quality bacon will yield a more complex and interesting central layer, and many cooks like to use high-quality dark chocolate which goes light on the sugar so that the sweet notes are not overwhelming. However, milk chocolate can be used as well, adding a more creamy texture to the finished piece. The chunks of salt can be replaced with lighter flakes of salt or left off altogether, for people who find classic pig lickers a bit too salty.
This food was popularized in 2008, when it was heavily promoted at the Minnesota State Fair, but in fact numerous versions of pig lickers were already floating around the culinary world, including bacon bonbons. The dish is also not native to the Midwest, and the origin of the chocolate/bacon/salt combination is actually a bit difficult to track down. The dish may have started out as a wild culinary experiment or dare somewhere, but gourmet chefs quickly picked it up and played with the recipe to create their own unique take.
This wiseGEEK author is interested to see if any bold cooks take the next obvious step and make spicy pig lickers with peppers, as chocolate and hot peppers are already a time-tested combination. This variation is most likely to emerge in Texas, where several chocolate companies already make an assortment of chili and chocolate blends.
Pig Lickers® are also trade marked by us up here at the Minnesota State Fair. Where they originated in 2008.
There are many copycats at various fairs and restaurants across the country. But if you truly want the original, come see us at the Minnesota State Fair, and yes, it will have the sea salt on it. Thanks for the hit on your site. Charlie T.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!