Bacon is becoming as American as apple pie, yet plenty of food experts predict the downward slide of bacon as a food ingredient. Still, bacon keeps sizzling away. The donut industry is particularly fond of bacon as a topping nowadays, particularly as maple bacon bars gain huge popularity at retail donut shops across the country. Even maple bacon cupcakes surfaced within the past year.

So as bacon proves its staying power, there is one looming debate among bacon connoisseurs to tackle. When using bacon as a topping for a donut, should you use the whole piece of bacon or chop it first into crumbles before placing on top?

Bakeries differ in their approach. Mike Nord, owner of Nord’s Bakery in Louisville, KY, says that he believes placing a hefty slice of bacon (or two or three slices!) on top of a maple bacon donut immediately gives the customer the impression of what it is. With crumbles, he says, customers might not immediately recognize it as bacon.

One way around that is to do what Varsity Donuts in Manhattan, KS, does. They pile on the bacon pieces on their popular Bacon Bomb, so there’s no mistaking what’s on top. Besides, when you order a Bacon Bomb, you pretty much know what you are getting.

The bacon craze is undoubtedly spreading. Last fall, Southern California-based Sprinkles Cupcakes introduced their first savory cupcake, the maple bacon cupcake.

Here’s how they describe it: “Harnessing bacon's unique umami taste, Sprinkles serves up our first savory cupcake. Thick, smoky bacon is cooked to a crisp and woven into our Madagascar Bourbon vanilla cake. Topped with rich, buttery maple cream cheese frosting, crispy bacon crumbles and fleur de sel, you will be convinced that everything tastes better with bacon!”

Yes, Americans are trying to get healthier, so the negative publicity about health benefits of bacon may cut into its future within the retail bakery world. Still, people want to indulge when they go to a bakery, and bacon speaks to indulgence about as well as any other savory ingredient.

Plus, adding bacon turns a sweet good into more of a meal. And as more customers are seeking convenience foods that match their on-the-go lifestyles, savory bakery products make a lot of sense.

Bakeries and bakery cafes that offer bacon on their sweet-and-savory donuts and pastries are falling right in line with current foodservice trends. With a growth rate outpacing all other proteins in the foodservice industry, pork is hot. According to Technomic Inc.'s 2013 Volumetric Assessment of Pork in Foodservice, pork is sustaining its popularity, having become the foodservice industry's fastest-growing protein in each of the past two years.

The Technomic study also showed that of the 24 pork product categories reviewed, 22 demonstrated positive growth in sales. On a per-pound basis, bacon grew the most between 2011 and 2013, up 102 million pounds.