Food & Drink

Turkey Bacon Obviously Isn't Bacon, So What Is It, Anyway?

If you don't have the pig or a fatty belly, can you really have bacon at all?
05/05/2014 09:15am ET | Updated May 6, 2014

There are a lot of contradictory terms we take at face value in the food world. Veggie burgers, for one. Paleo (a.k.a. bread-less) pizza. And turkey bacon.

If you know anything about bacon, besides the fact that you want to put it on everything, you're aware that bacon comes from the fatty belly of the pig. If you don't have the pig or a fatty belly, can you really have bacon at all? With National Turkey Bacon Day just behind us -- yes, this is now a holiday too -- we've had this existential question on our mind and we've started to wonder: what exactly is turkey bacon?

Here's a look at the list of ingredients from a package of Butterball Turkey Bacon:

Poultry ingredients(Turkey, Mechanically Separated Turkey), Water, Salt, Sugar, Contains 2% or less of Canola Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite.

With traditional pork bacon, we know we're frying up the fatty cut of the belly. But turkey bacon doesn't act like bacon; it certainly doesn't look like bacon, or even like a straightforward cut of meat at all. And that's because it isn't. The list of ingredients makes it clear (at least in Butterball's turkey bacon product). Turkey bacon is lots of different mechanically-separated turkey parts that have been ground together and shaped to become "bacon" -- with the help of oil to make it taste good, of course. Mmmmmm.

We thought turkey bacon was a healthy alternative to the better, tastier, real pork bacon, but it turns out that might not be the case at all. So we want to know from you guys: should this food product be allowed to call itself bacon? Let us know what you think in the poll and comments below.

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