The Weekly Bacon: Great Moments in Bacon History
by Michele J Martin
While Bacon has been referenced as far back as the Roman era, what we have come to know as bacon, wasn’t created until the mid 18th century in Britain when, food historians note, pig farmers began paying closer attention to the meatier areas of their herd, cutting and curing accordingly.
It wasn’t long after modern bacon was born that people started embracing it. While mass produced bacon began over 100 years prior to Oscar Mayer’s prepackaged launch in 1924, it was Oscar Mayer that brought bacon to the tables of nearly every American in the post war decade, helping to secure bacon and eggs as the ubiquitous breakfast of choice, even today.
As the post war era grew into the new mid century hope, people began looking for investment opportunities. The commodities market was growing, and In 1961 the Chicago Mercantile Exchange officially began the Pork Belly Commodities Contract. Frozen pork bellies became the first traded meat commodity, continuing until mid 2011 when the exchange announced that they would no longer be trading futures in Pork Belly. The reasoning? The demand is so high now that frozen pork bellies are no stored in anticipation for the summer bacon season, our consumption has created an on demand shift in the bacon market.
Undoubtedly the popularity of bacon has increased year after year, however it was the launch of social media in the late 90’s and early 2000’s that have taken the bacon phenomenon to new heights. From websites and social media accounts dedicated to it, film and food festivals honoring it, pop culture referencing it, songs dedicated to it, and an almost obsessive need by product companies to outdo each other on who can launch the most absurd bacon themed product ever. Bacon lube anyone? (No thanks)
Bacon is not slowing down, and personally, that makes this bacon lover very happy. In 2012 there was a rumoured, and much feared, baconpocalypse on the horizon, due to drought conditions affecting the corn and soy crops. People began stockpiling bacon in their freezers, in case the rumour became reality. Luckily the global swine shortage didn’t happen, and we are all now free to spend our weekend mornings making bacon pancakes with Jake the Dog as we drink bacon spiked bloody marys.
When making bacon pancakes, please remember, for the love of swine, stay away from the canned bacon.