It's hard to fathom these days, when our collective bacon lust is used to sell everything from vodka to sexual lubricant. But, there was a time when Americans barely touched the stuff. Back in the health-obsessed 1980s, fatty pork belly was a tough sell and — during this particularly flavorless period in U.S. history — the boneless chicken breast was king. Even the pork industry tried to make its products sound chicken-like, with its dubious "Pork: The Other White Meat" campaign, emphasizing leaner cuts of the pig.
How bacon became fashionable again isn't as simple as Americans rediscovering how great it tastes. According to this fascinating report by Bloomberg Businessweek, there was a shadow PR war going on behind the scenes in the early 1990s, with the pork industry funding research into precooking technology, lobbying restaurant chains to add bacon-based menu items and even subsiziding recipe development: "Though the money spent by the National Pork Board on this effort was relatively small — a few hundred thousand dollars, spread over a decade, by one estimate — the investment paid off better than anyone could have imagined."
Fast-food chains began adding bacon to sandwiches and the greasy floodgates opened. Hardee's set the precedent in 1992, with its "Frisco Burger" topped with "sizzling bacon" on sourdough bread. Watch history unfold in this trailblazing TV commercial:
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