It happens each spring. Jason Mosley and other pork lovers from throughout the country make an annual pilgrimage to Iowa to pay tribute to that king of pork products—salty, greasy, artery-clogging bacon. And Mosley, who authors the blog Mr. Bacon Pants, is one of the forefathers of Bacon Nation, as the recent movement embracing this salty pork staple has been dubbed.
So it's only fitting that while attending and documenting the second annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines this past March, that he be feted by the denizens of bacon nation.
"In Iowa, they take their bacon seriously," Mosley says during coffee at Affogatto Coffee Shop in Bellevue, his hometown for the last seven years. "There are more pigs than people in Iowa. You can Wikipedia it." He's been blogging about bacon for six years, but his love, his devotion, his adoration of bacon goes back even further. In fact, it almost seems fated. Mosley, 27, was born on March 1st, which is celebrated, especially among Iowans, as National Pig Day and therefore
commemorates the annual gathering.
In an equally fitting tribute, Mosley has just been featured in the book, Bacon: A Love Story,
published this month by Harper Collins and authored by fellow bacon-blogger Heather Lauer, who posts her pork tributes on the site Bacon Unwrapped.
In a telephone interview, Lauer explains that in she wanted to include as many people as possible from Bacon Nation and that Mosley is one of its founders.
"It's a complete study on the culture of bacon, it's history, how do you make it, how do people like to eat it. I tell it through the story of other people who love bacon, or make bacon, or blog about bacon."
In the book, Lauer chronicles Mosley's love of bacon as well as some favorite Pittsburgh haunts that cater to his cravings. There is Fat Head's on East Carson Street on the Southside, which is Mosley's favorite haunt for a bacon cheeseburger.
"It's a good selection of beer and the bacon cheeseburger is the size of my head," he says. He also sings the praises of one of his favorite Tuesday night haunts, Harris Grill in Shadyside. On Tuesday night, aka bacon night, the Ellsworth Avenue haunt serves baskets of warm salty bacon to bar patrons along with their drinks. (Those same baskets can be ordered at tables for a buck.)
"The only city mentioned in Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh and that is
because of me," Mosley says, pride in his voice as much for his city as for his accomplishments.
There are other perks that come from being the bacon-blogging-king of Pittsburgh. There's the packages of food that get shipped to his house by public relations reps for food companies who hope he'll write about their product. Mosley also earns a nice revenue check from advertisers on his site which, on a recent visit, included Weight Watchers. (Writer's note: Although Mosley spends a great deal of time sampling and reviewing bacon and bacon-related products, it does not appear as if he would ever need Weight Watchers or any other diet plan. Sigh.)
Posts on the blog cover everything from "The Kevin Bacon Movie List" to "Bacon is an innovative Ice Cream Flavor" to a video review of the McDonald's Angus Burger with bacon and cheese.
And while Mosley will sample pretty much any bacon combination—from bacon brownies to bacon coffee—it should be noted that he is a purist.
No turkey bacon please.
While its difficult to pin Mosley down to a favorite brand, he does say that during his latest trip to the bacon festival, he toured and was impressed by Vande Rose Farms, which was voted "Best Bacon in Iowa.
"I saw how they made their bacon, they do it old fashioned way. There are no machines that touch the bacon," Mosley said. "They use real apple wood chips, to smoke it. "
Mosley chronicles the tour and all other bacon adventures on his blog generates between 300 to 500 hits a day and jumps to 1,000 during the bacon festival.
Not bad for a kid who, upon being diagnosed with dyslexia in grade school, was told that writing would not be a part of his future.
It all started with his father who first introduced Mosley to bacon via a BLT when he was just a little.
"I was a little kid so everything my dad said was gospel. For me, he used strips of bacon broken in half, lined up on two pieces of Wonder Bread," Mosley says.
Yes, Mosley does own a pair of bacon pants, which he made himself. Although, that's not where he got the name for the blog. That inspiration came during a business trip several years ago when Mosley went out to dinner with coworkers. A server brought out Mosley's salad and there were two strips of bacon shaped, stuck together at the top resembling a pair of bacon pants. That was the start of it.
In the six years that Mosley has written the blog there were times, especially at first, when it was hard to generate content several times a week. Now, he gives his blog about an hour a day.
"If I don't blog, I feel weird," Mosley explains. "I have to do it." Mosley recently partnered with longtime friend Sean Brett on the blog. The two write and also produce a weekly bacon radio podcast as well as the occasional video podcast. They are also working on a documentary about the bacon festival that they hope to unveil at the third annual gathering in March.
Mosley does sell bacon pants, but he designs bacon t-shirts and crafts bacon jewelry including earrings, which he offers for sale. Mosley, who works as a graphic designer for a local nonprofit, says he makes the jewelry with a flexible yet durable material that seems to last. He recently partnered with bacn.com, which will sell his products.
"I didn't sell out during Christmas. I sold out during Valentine's Day. A lot of guys are buying them for their girls," Mosley says.
In February, Mosley co-founded another blog, StartupPittsburgh, which is dedicated to profiling and reviewing startups in the Pittsburgh region.
Heidi Brayer, formerly known as Heidi Price, writes frequently for Pop City.
Captions: Jason Mosley; bacon accoutrements; blogging... the blog; in the garden at Affogato.Photographs copyright Pop City's own kosher vegetarian photographer, Brian Cohen