Robb Report Vices

Hickory Smoked and Heaven Sent

  • Shaun Tolson

It can be said that Francis Bacon changed the world. The English philosopher and scientist (among other professions) established what is now known as the scientific method—an approach to the investigation of the natural world that begins, quite simply, with the formulation of a question. Almost four centuries after Bacon’s death, Bob Coyle and Steve Saari continued the philosopher’s tradition by asking a simple, open-ended question: What would happen if we added bacon to peanut brittle? That was in 2008. By 2009, they had their answer. They also had a new business venture, Sir Francis Bacon, which would share their newfound creation with the world.

It took the two Atlanta entrepreneurs almost a year to iron out all the details of the business, with a good portion of that time devoted to the task of perfecting the recipe. Sir Francis Bacon sources its smoky pork goodness from Allan Benton, a legendary bacon purveyor from Tennessee, who acknowledges that he smokes his hickory country bacon three times longer than pretty much anyone else in the business. The resulting bacon packs a punch, and in the first few recipe experiments, it overpowered the caramel and peanut flavors of the brittle. “It was a campfire,” Coyle recalls with a chuckle. The duo spent some time refining the ratios with their confectioner, and after some trial and error they arrived at the right proportions. “There’s still a wonderful smokiness,” Coyle says, “but there’s a surprise to it. It comes to you in waves. You enter with the salty sweetness [of the caramel and peanuts], and then the smoky bacon flavor comes in at the end.”

Once their original bacon peanut brittle caught on, Coyle and Saari rolled out a variation dipped in milk chocolate. Shortly thereafter, they introduced their third bacon confection—a dark chocolate–covered bacon toffee bar. Additional treats are in the works, but the Atlanta duo remains tight-lipped on their identity. What they do say is that bacon still holds plenty of untapped potential in the confectionery realm. “There’s always been a love affair with bacon,” says Saari. “Now imagination is catching up to it.”

“It’s a pretty wonderful, gourmet experience when you can do it right,” Coyle adds. “We feel fortunate to be a part of that.” 

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