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Why the Bacon Craze Will Never End

Some use it in their aftershave. Or their vodka. Some folks simply like to eat it. The business of bacon shows no sign of slowing down.
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Can a single cut of meat become an industry in its own right? Of course.

Our obsessive love for bacon shows no sign of letting up, and huge numbers of companies are capitalizing on it. You can find socks covered with images of bacon, special tools for cooking better bacon, and even bacon-scented perfumes. No matter the industry, there's a way to infuse bacon into it--and people will buy.

According to Ceci Snyder at the National Pork Board, "bacon mania is everywhere." It appeals to any meat eater no matter the person's age, background, or (nonvegetarian) lifestyle. It's been around for centuries, first appearing in the Roman Empire as petaso. It's simple to cook, good tasting, readily available, and, in most cases, cheap compared with other meats.

From a Chef's Perspective

In the world of increasingly complicated charcuterie, bacon is easy. Therefore, it's on every breakfast menu and is so easily infused into sweets. It works as a topper on salads and even cupcakes. Put some bacon on a sundae and you can charge a few more bucks for it, even though the bacon only cost a few cents.

The demand for better bacon is also on the rise. Snyder says, "There are more expectations for our bacon now. People want better bacon." This trend has been evident even at McDonald's, which began offering a burger with "thick-cut applewood smoked" bacon on it earlier this year.

No Such Thing as Universal Appeal. But . . . 

There will always be vegetarians or just people who don't like the taste of bacon. However, that isn't stopping publishers from capitalizing on the widespread love of the meat. According to The Huffington Post's Kim Bhasin, "Posts about bacon are pretty much guaranteed to attract eyeballs. We wrote about bacon enough to spawn Bacon Insider, a parody page on Business Insider."

These posts don't guarantee virality, but they certainly have a greater chance of being read by large audiences than posts on many other subjects. Eli Ayrouth, reporter for Foodbeast, says, "While there will always be hot foods of the moment, the difference here is that bacon is a standalone product, making it a more evergreen topic. Essentially, bacon's popularity is built-in, while products like cronuts or ramen burgers have to evolve in waves with respect to their online popularity."

Will Bacon Ever Go Away?

Not likely. Bacon was here well before you, and it will probably be here after you. Will there still be bacon aftershave and lip balm in 50 years? Maybe not, but those and other products may see revivals along the way. This poses an interesting question for bacon-loving entrepreneurs: Is it safe to open a business focused on bacon when many people say bacon has gone too far? Maybe not. But there's no safety net for starting any business. If you're truly passionate about bacon, you may still succeed. In this case, it might simply come down to how you execute. The popularity of bacon--that will never be a problem. 

Last updated: Aug 8, 2014

JOHN BOITNOTT | Columnist

A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked at TV, newspaper, radio, and internet companies in California for 20 years.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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