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How bacon became such a crazy social media meme

An investigation.


  1. Today's news that there is a looming bacon shortage set off a faux panic on social media, where bacon is so beloved that, if it could, the internet would give roses made of bacon to its sweetheart, bacon. 
  2. News of the supposed shortage:

  3. The question came up at Storify: When did bacon become a meme, and why? 
  4. Of course it's delicious. But so is hot fudge, and that's not a meme. Yes, you can put it on everything. But you can do that with melted cheese, and that's not a meme. "It's just good!" is not a reason. 
  5. When did it start? I found this graphic from The Seattle Weekly. It cites the origin of the blog, Bacon Unwrapped, in 2005.
  6. I reached out to the blog's author, Heather Lauer a writer based in Arizona. She turned out to be a wealth of information, and listed major contributors to bacon's online cred, such as bacon blogs, gimmick products, bacon festivals, fast-food menu items, pork industry marketing, and social media. But she cited one particular recipe that "got a lot of national media attention at the time and it's when you really started to see the mainstream media catching on to the trend." The recipe emerged in 2007-2008, she says, "when the bacon trend started to take off in a major way." 
  7. That recipe was for ... THE BACON EXPLOSION!

  8. Forming a checkerboard of bacon to wrap a filling of spiced sausage and crumbled bacon? This seemed to set a new standard for bacon indulgence - and help inspire the online devotion, Lauer says. 
  9. Bacon explosion: where's the beef?
  10. But Lauer points out that, "I don't think there's any single incident that was responsible for bacon becoming such a popular meme." There's not one smoking gun. But we want facts. So, using a variety of sources and with the help of Know Your Meme, I managed to piece together a paper trail. (Of grease-stained paper towels.) Here are the influences that helped create bacon's place on the internet. 
  11. The Atkins Diet

  12. Nothing did more to put copious amounts of bacon in front of us. According to Wikipedia, "the Atkins Nutritional Approach gained widespread popularity in 2003 and 2004. At the height of its popularity one in eleven North American adults was on the diet."
  13. Think Geek

  14. The popular online gift catalogue has featured more than 100 bacon-inspired products, and its shoppers tend to be very active online. 
  15. Slow Food and food trucks