Plates can be ceramic or paper; cups can be glass or plastic. So why can’t a bowl be made of bacon?
That’s apparently the question the “Seen on TV” folks asked themselves. And their answer is the “Perfect Bacon Bowl,” a heat-safe mold that claims to turn strips of ordinary bacon into an edible bowl.
“We’re turning bacon upside down,” the commercial announcer says with glee.
Of all the products we have tested, this gadget is the most requested. Via Facebook and Twitter, viewers have repeatedly urged us to see if it works.
We raced to grab our gadget-testing supplies. First, at the “As Seen on TV” store at Brandon Town Center mall, we shelled out $14 for a box that contained two black plastic molds. Next, we grabbed two pounds of ordinary bacon -- it was buy one get one free, for the record.
NAMESAKE GUINEA PIGS
And finally we enlisted Chase, Morgan, and Brent Bacon. Yes, the Bacon family agreed to test the Perfect Bacon Bowl on our behalf.
"We love bacon, so this is not a hard sell for us," said Mrs. Bacon.
As she examines the molds, she puts into words the comparison I had been struggling to make.
"It looks a bit like a juicer," she said.
And she’s right. But the only liquid in this kitchen gadget will be grease.
Each edible bacon bowl contains three strips of bacon. In step one, a single slice is cut in half and cross-crossed along the top – which will ultimately become the bottom.
The directions are remarkably detailed. Mrs. Bacon squints as she reads a portion of them.
"Slightly overlapping strip two when wrapping strip three, follow diagram D," she said skeptically.
Basically, the remaining strips are wrapped around the sides. Then, the bacon-wrapped plastic model is microwaved for two and a half minutes, or more depending on microwave wattage.
The first run is a bit unconvincing. The bacon shriveled and popped off the model, sliding to one side. It’s tiny and seems to fall short of the Bacons’ expectations. Nonetheless, they are optimistic about what it produced.
“It's a bacon bit bowl," Brent said.
"Bacon Bit," it is worth noting, is what the Bacons call their son Morgan.
Brent is determined to try again – with a backup bacon.
"Thick-cut, here we come," he proclaims.
The finished product following our second run comes much closer to matching the photos on the box. And the Bacons are sold.
"I would totally use it,” Brent said. “Thick-cut works."
“I think it's pretty,” his wife added.
The Bacons are particularly eager to bring the Perfect Bacon Bowl to an upcoming family reunion. It will figure prominently in a family cook-off where the main ingredient is -- wait for it -- bacon.
If you are interested in the concept of an edible bowl made entirely of bacon yet not intrigued enough to drop $14 for a Perfect Bacon Bowl, we have done some research to aide your high-cholesterol quandary.
We tinkered with items that you are likely to find in your kitchen. We tried two combinations that would cost you nothing out of pocket, yet still deliver a perfect bacon bowl.
One worked well; the other was a waste of time and bacon.
BOWL AND PLATE
China (or, in my case, Ikea dinnerware) seemed like an obvious choice. We took a small bowl, flipped it, placed it atop a sandwich plate to collect the grease, and pondered whether it would work.
We concluded it would. We were certain it would outdo the Perfect Bacon Bowl and deliver a bowl that was both bigger and better – not to mention cheaper.
So, we wrapped the unusual China combo with five pieces of bacon, microwaved it for six minutes, and quickly realized we made a mistake. We marveled at how much it shriveled. Similar to the Bacon family’s first test, all five strips shrank and migrated away from the rounded edges of the bowl.
Our result was heavily lopsided -- 50 percent bowl, 50 percent plate -- and 100 percent messy. A ring of burned grease outlined the spot where the two pieces of China connected. It will definitely need some serious scrubbing.
Next, we flipped over a muffin tin and followed the same instructions as the Perfect Bacon Bowl. We cut one piece and formed an 'X' on the top, then wrapped the other two pieces around the sides.
We baked it at 400 degrees, placing the upside down muffin tin atop a makeshift aluminum foil moat that we crafted to catch loose grease.
After 26 minutes in the oven, the bacon heated to a moderately crispy texture and shaped into perfectly neat little bowl.
You will not be eating pasta out of this thing anytime soon, but the flipped muffin tin will deliver a dinnertime spectacle.
Cooking with a muffin tin took longer than the Perfect Bacon Bowl, but it might win a time battle. The muffin tin would allow a bacon-lover to make a dozen bacon bowls at once.