Eric Godfrey has a long and varied resume that starts in the world of stand-up comedy and leads to his gourmet bacon business, Bacon King USA.
“In college, I did stand-up comedy,” Godfrey said. “I’m living in Charlotte, North Carolina, and so I started stand-up comedy. I was in college and working weekends all throughout the southeast. Get back in time for class on Monday. Go to the Bahamas for spring break, work the comedy club down there — lots of fun, living the dream.”
Just after he graduated college, around 1991, Godfrey got a unique opportunity.
“At the time, Carrot Top had hit the scene and he did what they call a NACA conference — National Association of Collegiate Activities,” Godfrey said. “He did a NACA conference, and he got 86 schools that wanted him to perform during a one-semester period of time, which was a record.”
Godfrey said Carrot Top’s manager reached out to him and asked if he wanted to go on the road with the prop comedian.
“His manager at the time — I was working for his comedy clubs — said, ‘Hey, listen, why don’t you have Eric go out with you on the road? He can help you drive the truck and he can help you carry the trunks into the venue, help you set them up. He can go up in front of you and do 15-20 minutes,’” Godfrey said.
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The pair ended up spending years together on the road, with Godfrey eventually becoming Carrot Top’s tour manager. However, he eventually decided to settle down in St. Cloud, where he moved into education. Godfrey is now the dean of students at St. Cloud High School.
Despite his successful second act in education, Godfrey decided to venture into entrepreneurship after inspiration struck him without warning.
“I came up with the idea back in November,” he said. “Just recently, it was one of the things that I was just about to fall asleep, (and) for some reason, I just sort of started myself up and I said, ‘Bacon.’”
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Godfrey had been experimenting with pork because a friend of his gave him a recipe for pork belly burnt ends.
“I went online and I do research on how to make bacon because I already had the pork belly. I already made enough of the pork belly burnt ends, I want to try something different,” he said. “So I found a recipe for bacon and I made my first batch of bacon and it turned out great. Good enough that I’m like, ‘Oh wow,’ and I gave it up to all the guys at school and everything else. I’m like, ‘This is really cool.’ Then I realized based on the ingredients, there are so many there are unlimited kinds of bacon.”
Godfrey started making his own bacon, selling it online and through farmer’s markets around Central Florida. The ease of the process gave him a second idea for his business.
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“My wife signed up for one of those paint things where the ladies get together and they drink wine and they paint,” he said. “Then I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, they can do that. Why can’t guys get together and drink beer and make bacon?’ So I have what I call the Bacon King experience.”
“I go through the whole history of how curing began and everything and then we give them an actual five-pound slab of pork belly and we do the measurements and create the cure and then I let them just go in and make whatever they want,” Godfrey said.
On the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Godfrey shares more about his bespoke bacon. He also shares his plans to franchise the Bacon King Experience and his dream of a Tiger King-inspired photo shoot.
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Florida Foodie is a podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it and the impact that has on us here in Florida and for everyone, everywhere. Find new episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.