Bacon has been in the news lately, what with the story of a small-town Vermont restaurant taking down their bacon-themed advertisement at the request of a self-described “vegan living in a Muslim household.” The story went viral — with accompanying wild sensationalism — and news outlets were quickly bombarded with semi-literate comments decrying the restaurant for, essentially, failing to uphold American values (i.e., bacon).
Religious or dietary philosophy aside, it’s true that bacon is widely considered to be a staple of American breakfast tables. It’s hard to imagine an America where people did not wake up and rejoice to the smell of hot fat sizzling in a pan.
But here’s a funny thing: Bacon has been a breakfast food for less than a century, and it was made so by advertising.
It’s hard to feel bad about this, because it’s bacon
Here’s what happened: Back in the early 20th century, Beech-Nut Packaging needed to find a way to bolster flagging sales. So they turned to a (some would say the) pioneer in the public relations field, Edward Bernays, and gave him the job of convincing people to embrace deliciousness.
The thing is, Bernays (pictured below) had this funky notion that you have to trick people into buying stuff. Maybe he saw what the Snake Oil folks were up to and liked it, or maybe his uncle Sigmund (yes, that Sigmund) rubbed off on him. Either way, he has been aptly called the godfather of spin.
Prior to Bernays’ intervention, the average American’s breakfast consisted of a cup of coffee and a piece of toast. Bernays went around to a bunch of doctors and got them to agree that consuming a heartier breakfast — like, say, bacon and eggs — might give one more energy throughout the day. Bernays then turned around and told America that thousands of doctors recommended bacon.
That sleight of hand became the hallmark of advertising through the 20th century, a subtler and more pernicious form of the baseless lies of the Snake Oil crowd — but it also lead to a renaissance of pork-fueled advertising, and revolutionized breakfast.
“A Real American Breakfast”
Because the campaign sought (successfully) to uplift the entire bacon industry, everyone got on board. By positioning bacon with patriotism, Americans took the food to their soon-to-be-suffering hearts.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the product itself, while not the healthiest food ever, does taste pretty damned good.
Today, bacon has taken to the streets, in the form of bacon food trucks.
So many bacon trucks.
It’s only natural that bacon would also have a strong web presence; there are whole websites that exist just to talk about bacon.
This site will add a side of bacon to any website. Because bacon makes everything better.
Then there’s Bacon Ipsum, which generates pork-leavened placeholder text for designers who want to make clients hungry.
Rigney Graphics is a Pasadena graphic arts company that can help you create an impact with design and marketing solutions for print and web.