The World’s Best Breakfast Meats, Power Ranked

People tell you all sorts of positive things about having a life partner. “You live with your best friend,” they say. “You share your joys and your sorrows,” they promise. “You have children and it’s such a miracle of — ” blah blah blah. You get the idea. And it’s all true, I suppose. But as far as I’m concerned, the #1 reason to be in a romantic relationship with another human being is so that when you go to brunch you can order two different dishes and split them.

Never having to decide between a heavily-meated breakfast dish and pancakes/waffles is THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IN THE SHORT, MISERABLE NANOSECOND THAT WE SPEND ON THIS DUMB ROCK, HURTLING IN CIRCLES AROUND A MASSIVE FIREBALL. Does each partner get to choose a dish? No. That would be insane. I choose both of them so I can make sure we’re optimizing our deliciousness — both in my own relationship and in yours. (Honestly, if you tweeted me pictures of your breakfast menu, I would be thrilled to order for you and your partner. #DreamJob)

Now, that we’ve gotten past the correct way to order breakfast (which is that I do it for everyone), we need to get into the nitty gritty of breakfast meats. Because breakfast is nothing without some cured flesh. Sure, there are people who have been Stockholm Syndromed into believing that their egg white omelets with tomato and feta cheese don’t need meat. These people deserve pity. They should be sent to rehab centers up north somewhere. They need quiet days reflecting in the woods, crafting misshapen bowls on a pottery wheel and reflecting on the importance of scrapple.

You may be asking, “But really? Is a breakfast meat vital in every single dish? What about pancakes?” Let me tell you something: There was this breakfast place I used to go to in Chicago where they stuffed like a pound of ham into a pancake. And. It. Was. Transcendent. “If it doesn’t have meat, it’s a snack,” Ron Swanson told us on Parks and Rec, and that’s a philosophy we absolutely stand by.

Today, I’m bringing you Breakfast Meats Power Ranked. In honor of the quote above, our scoring system will be “0-99 stoic Ron Swansons” — because he, above all people, knew how to do breakfast right. Still, the order is more important than the score, because I’m in charge… just like when I order your breakfast this weekend.

10. Turkey Bacon

Oh turkey bacon, you try so hard. You think because you have less fat, calories, and sodium that you are a competitive breakfast meat option. But you’re wrong. Not only is turkey bacon really not as healthy as you think, the flavor just isn’t as good. Turkey, you’re great at thanksgiving and in sandwiches. But as bacon, you’re the equivalent of Michael Jordan playing baseball. It’s just not the same, bro.

Interesting Fact: Turkey Bacon can also be played as a rousing breakfast meat edition of ‘6 Degrees of Separation’! “Okay — Julia Roberts was in Pretty Woman with Richard Gere who was in Shall We Dance With Jennifer Lopez Who Played Opposite A Piece Of Turkey Bacon in the hit film Gigli!” I win!

Score: ZERO Ron Swansons. Because it’s not real bacon, and in his words, “There’s only one thing I hate more than lying. Skim milk, which is water lying about being milk.”

9. Canadian Bacon

Best served on a benedict, it’s hard to explain why Canadian Bacon isn’t as good as either bacon or ham. It simply doesn’t taste as satisfyingly fatty as bacon or as sweet as ham. Therefore, it feels like a blander option than both of them. It’s making me feel depressed to think about it. I feel like it’s the knockoff version of the toy you really wanted for Christmas that your parents couldn’t afford. This is the CVS version and it’s terrible. But don’t worry, you’ll move far away some day to the city to be a STAR, and no one will ever make you eat Canadian bacon ever again.

Score: ½ a Ron Swanson. Because while it IS meat, it’s still Canadian. And in the words of the great Ron Swanson, “Dear Canada, F*ck you.”

8. The Sausage Patty

There’s a time and a place for sausage patties, and that place is an elementary school cafeteria at 6am filled with sad children or at a Florida McDonald’s with a large order of hotcakes (also filled with sad children). Aside from those two places (known for their high quality cuisine), get them off my plate.

Score: 1 Ron Swanson, because it feels like a less-good version of real sausage, and according to Swanson, you should “never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”

7. Sausage Gravy

The only reason that this isn’t ranked higher is because I acknowledge that it isn’t PURE meat. But it is delicious. Also, it’s really dependent on having a biscuit. Like no one is just lapping up a bowl of sausage gravy like they’re a British orphan and the gravy is a bowl of cold porridge, you know?

Interesting fact: Cracker Barrel employees are just bits of sausage gravy that became sentient and put on plastic skin suits to blend in.

Score: 2 Ron Swansons for being a hearty meal. “Strippers do nothing for me, but I will take a free breakfast buffet any time, any place,” says Ron. Similarly, one would never turn away some biscuits and gravy in a hotel buffet, that would be insane.

6. Steak

Like the pizza bagel does with pizza, steak and eggs proves that you can truly have steak anytime you want. Steak and eggs are amazing. Unfortunately, many restaurants use poorer quality steak for their breakfasts. And tough, gross steak can kind of ruin the experience. But done right….oooo boy.

Score: 10 Ron Swansons. “I need five courses for dinner and each course will be steak.”

5. Lox

Lox on a bagel with cream cheese is a true breakfast treasure. Again, this can’t be higher because it’s so dependent on other things to complete the dish. Also, is this a meat? Probably not. It’s fish. Stop being didactic with me! It’s flesh of an animal eaten before noon, we’re counting it.

Score: 5 Ron Swansons. Because while he loves fishing, he does not consider fish to be meat. “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Don’t teach a man to fish…feed yourself. He’s a grown man and fishing’s not that hard.”

4. Bacon

Ah, bacon. It makes everything it touches better. Name me one food that isn’t made better with bacon? YOU CAN’T. It’s on cupcakes, in chocolate, on donuts. It makes any vegetable shine. That salty goodness would be great around an old shoe you found floating in the river. It’s perfection.

Score: 10 BIG Ron Swansons. “Just give me all the bacon and eggs you have. Wait…wait. I worry what you heard is, ‘give me a lot of bacon and eggs.’ What I said was: ‘Give me all of the bacon and eggs you have.’ Do you understand?”

3. Sausage links

Sausage is a THOUSAND times better in link form than in patty. And there are so many kinds! Whether you want spicy chicken tequila sausage or maple syrup sausage, you’re guaranteed an amazing meal. General life policy: I WILL EAT ALL OF THE SAUSAGE AND I WILL EAT IT NOW.

Score: 8 Ron Swansons, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a booth over there serving something called, ‘Fried Sausage Quilts’. So I am going to buy the booth.”

2. Chorizo

Look, I’m a sucker for any Mexican inspired breakfast. And breakfast burritos and tacos with chorizo are so effing good. Spicy breakfasts are the greatest thing ever invented, and you couldn’t do it without chorizo. I love you buddy. So. Much.

Score: 9 Ron Swansons. I don’t know his exact (fictional) feelings about spiciness, but I do think he’d prefer his meat to be plainer. It’s some fantastic meat though, and as Ron says, “You had me at meat tornado.”

1. Ham

It’s the perfect breakfast food. It’s salty, it’s sweet. It’s hearty and moist. It makes any dish better from a scramble to an omelet to a breakfast sandwich. It’s the one meat I could never, ever live without. And it will always be number one for me in terms of breakfast meats.

Score: 99 Ron Swansons. And you can argue about the ranking, but know that like Ron, “I regret nothing. The end.”