The Reason You Have Bacon on Your Breakfast Plate

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Bacon. Most of us probably take for granted that it’s an American breakfast staple, but it turns out that the popularity of those sizzling strips of pork was more than just happenstance.

As The Washington Post details in a new video, in the 1920s the Beech-Nut Packing Company wanted to boost Americans’ taste for bacon. They assigned that task to a public relations pioneer named Edward Bernays, who was a nephew of Sigmund Freud and used psychology to market products. Bacon — and big breakfasts in general — had been popular in rural America but had fallen out of favor in the early 20th century, when people migrated to cities and began eating things like processed cereals for breakfast.

In vintage video footage, Bernays himself explains:

“We went to a physician, found that a heavy breakfast was sounder from the standpoint of health than a light breakfast. We asked the physician, after telling him why we were talking to him, would he be willing, at no cost, to write to 5,000 physicians and ask them whether their judgment was the same as his. He said he would be glad to do it. We carried out a letter to 5,000 physicians. We got about 4,500 answers. All of them concurred that a heavy breakfast was better for the health of the American people than a light breakfast. That was publicized in the newspapers. Many of them stated that bacon and eggs should be embodied with the breakfast, and as a result the sale of bacon went up.”

Genius. (And you thought it was just because you loved the taste.)

Photo courtesy of iStock