Bacon has reigned supreme over the cured meats this past decade. Oscar Meyer has taken notice, and now they are unashamedly marketing it in all its fatty, high-calorie glory.
Adweek published an interesting retrospective on Oscar Meyer bacon, noting that the low-fat craze days are over, and thus so are the almost oxymoronic “lean bacon” days. They pointed out that the brand’s “Butcher Thick Cut” variety is sold in vacuum-sealed plastic without cardboard to showcase the fat marbling, a marketing move that would have been unthinkable in the ’80s.
Bacon has been around for centuries, but its trendiness in the U.S. came from a convergence of the end of the fat-free craze and the rise of the Internet.
In the late 1980s, studies proclaimed that Americans desperately needed to remove fat from their diets. The food industry responded, as a PBS Frontline report from 2004 details, by substituting both vegetable fats and sugar for animal fats on a massive scale. The result were health foods that were not remotely healthy, like the now-infamous Snackwell brand of desserts and snacks. By the start of the new millennium, the low-fat craze had made Americans fatter than ever.
As fatty foods once again became acceptable and people began sharing recipes on the Internet in the mid-aughts, bacon emerged as a favourite ingredient. The LA Times guessed that it had something to do with the ease of cooking bacon (anyone could do it) with the novelty of finding new uses for it. A trend in locally-produced foods around this time also boosted the pork industry, with bacon leading the way.
The popularity of authentic slabs of bacon and the inherent masculinity of eating strips of fat inspired New York agency 360i to develop the “Say It With Bacon” ad campaign this past June, in time for Father’s Day. Bacon fans could go to the campaign’s website and buy stereotypical dad gifts, like cuff links and a money clip, paired with specially packed bacon. All the gifts sold out.
You can watch the ad, a satire of diamond commercials, below:
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