December 16, 2009
One of the great parts of shopping online for Christmas gifts is how easy it is to shift your focus to the stuff that you want. One minute I’m looking at gardening books for my mom, and the next I’m browsing backpacks and high-end bikes. This is how I discovered the hole in my life that will be filled by bacon-scented soap. Every morning will be Sunday morning and dogs will hunt me down. It’s the gift that keeps giving.
The explosion in online “bacon-mania” in recent months has showered us with dozens of bacon-based products and streaked our computer monitors with grease. You can buy bacon salt, bacon pillows, bacon band-aids, and of course you can make a bacon twibbon. There is a movement among brewers to create the ultimate bacon beer. J&D’s bacon brand tagline declares that “everything should taste like bacon.” Amen.
Americans have never been shy about their love for meat and meat-related products. Fast food chains have taken it to a new level in recent months. KFC introduced a sandwich that replaced the bun with chicken breasts, Hardees’ advertising relies on the combination of meat and gravity, and Wendy’s Baconator says it all. But the Internet takes it to the extreme. This is Why You’re Fat showcases foods that combine vast quantities of pizza, hot dogs, oreos, bacon, and cheese. Even the New York Times chimed in on an item called the “Bacon Explosion.”
Why does ultra-fatty food have such a strong online presence? Were people not passionate about deep-fried cheeseburgers and frosting-covered sausage before the dawn of the Internet? I suspect that part of it is the near-universal appreciation of bacon and tasty food. Internet users across the country who have little in common can come together on the shared experience of fatty, delicious pork. It’s a form of timeless online small talk. Internet users gather around timely topics, like football games or the weather, as evidenced by the #snowpocalypse hashtag that took over Minneapolis last week.
Or does bacon-mania have its roots in the economy? Perhaps the bacon talk and products function as a small luxury for frugal consumers this year. Conversely, online “bacon-mania” could be a sign of Americans’ return to hedonist ways. Will we soon see new shopping malls and lots full of SUV’s? Bacon flavored lip balm gives me a dark hope that the consumer spirit is alive and well in America.
I’m going to get my bacon-flavored envelopes while I can; 2010 could be the year of “oatmeal-frenzy.” In any case, right now I have to wipe the bacon grease off my keyboard and agree with Mae West, who said that “too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”