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2014-01-02

Something to cure you

Mikie Baker

Well, the New Year has begun and so has dieting for at least half the US population. With that in mind, I figure the best way to lose weight is to write about what I can't eat. Hopefully my noisy computer keys will drown out my growling stomach.
It has come to my attention through a barrage of advertising that the thing we Americans can't get enough of is bacon. I noticed this trend last year when Rachel Ray did an entire show on bacon. I gained five pounds just watching it.
Then I noticed bacon-flavored everything popping up all over Amazon. You can buy bacon toothpaste, ice cream, gum, popcorn, coffee, jelly beans and, if you can believe it, vodka. They even sell bacon air freshener. Personally, I prefer the stuff you cook in a frying pan, but no worries, they sell lots of tools to make cooked bacon the best you've ever had.
As I sit here craving bacon, I begin to wonder when the heck did our love of bacon begin? Is this just an American thing or is this strip of cured pork a worldwide sensation? I've yet to see a sushi roll wrapped in raw bacon.
It's so much easier being a writer with the advent of Google and Wikipedia. All the info you've ever wanted to know is a simple click away, so here goes.
This country did not invent bacon, but we have perfected it. In fact, bacon was first created by the Romans. I imagine they had plenty of bacon orgies back then.
Of course, once the idea of bacon was around, it didn't take long for the French, Germans and Brits to get in on the act. In the 1600s, bacon was already a staple for European peasants. But not until the 1700s did bacon become a large scale business.
John Harris, an Englishman, opened his industrial bacon manufacturing plant in Wiltshire, England, which is still considered the bacon capital of the world. That explains my longing to visit the British Isles.
I bet you're thinking, "British bacon? What about our own Oscar Mayer?" Well Mr. Mayer did come to our rescue in 1924 when he introduced pre-packaged, pre-sliced bacon to America. Say, why don't they have a Baconmobile?
It took Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, to bring bacon and eggs to the American table. He was hired by the Beech-Nut Packing Company to increase the demand for bacon. This slick marketing man conducted "research" with doctors who all agreed we should eat a much bigger breakfast than just some eggs and toast - and the classic American breakfast was born in the late 1920's. Thanks, Ed, for insuring the diet craze that was to follow.
The old cliché of "bringing home the bacon" originated in the 12th century when a church in England offered a side of bacon to any man who could swear that he had not quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. After winning the prize, he would bring the slab home and his wife would yell at him about weight gain so their wedded bliss never lasted more than a year. Okay, okay, I made up that part about the wife.
So, folks, when you see that next TV ad for the plastic thing that makes "bacon bowls" you can fill with practically anything else fattening, go ahead and order it. It's your American heritage and you should be proud to claim it.
I'm just about done with my bacon craving for today. Thanks for letting me rattle on - I think I'm cured.