June 2, 2014
(Newser) – What is it about bacon that gives it that incredibly potent fragrance—the smell so many love to wake up to? Turns out researchers have actually investigated this, and chemistry blog Compound Interest (get it?) digs up the results. The smell, the site explains, is the result of 150 different chemical compounds created when bacon is cooked. Those compounds come partially from the Maillard Reaction, in which sugars react with amino acids in cooking. It’s what causes food to turn brown when you cook it, notes a video from the American Chemical Society featured at Time.
All kinds of different compounds are created in the process. Hydrocarbons, for instance—hydrogen and carbon atoms linked together—in some cases give off an excellent smell, NPR notes. Another key element of cooked bacon’s unique smell appears to come from those compounds that contain nitrogen, which add to the “meaty aroma.” Now you’ll know why your mouth is watering for that cooked breakfast—but if you want the taste without the calories? Try inhaling it.