John Ozersky ponders the reasons for bacon’s stranglehold on American culture at Time:
Bacon does have a distinct, wonderful taste, as everyone knows. But you can’t really taste bacon when it’s inside of a double cheeseburger or wrapped lattice-like around a pound of sausage. For my money, you can’t even really taste it when it’s smoked with applewood, which is the bacon equivalent of near beer. But what you can taste is fat. Americans think they don’t like eating fat straight up; they cut the edges off pork chops, use “buttery spreads” instead of butter and go to restaurants that give you bad olive oil with your bread. Bacon is about the only form of straight fat eating that exists within the American mainstream. And fat is the active ingredient in everything good in any meat you can name. The lean muscle is just along for the ride. In bacon, as in everything else, the fat is the meat, and the meat is the vegetable.
Bacon isn’t cool, any more than, say, Nicki Minaj is cool. But it’s cooler than hamburgers, chicken and pizza, in the exact same way that Minaj is cooler than Katy Perry or Taylor Swift. Now this may be a low bar, but a low bar is exactly what you need if you want tens of millions of people to jump over it. While I doubt that anybody really considers bacon idiosyncratic or transgressive in any way, it has the magic quality of being just different enough, just odd enough, to qualify its proponents as not absolutely mainstream. In this, it is like almost every product that has enjoyed mainstream success.
There was much blowback from the Dodge Charger commercial some years back that proclaimed, in almost homicidal tones, that men had been put upon too long and deserved to have, at the very least, a hypermasculine muscle car as a consolation prize: “man’s last stand.” Well, times haven’t gotten any easier for men, or so it seems to that portion of the male population that stoops to “white male victimhood.” (I learned this phrase on Jezebel, the lady blog I read every day to find out what the other half is thinking.) The heyday of white guys may be far from over, as the election supposedly indicates, but that only makes white guys more incensed, in states both red and blue. Among Americans who don’t want to come off like mullet-wearing goons, bacon is an acceptable substitute for less innocuous totems of proud manhood. Yes, it’s weak, and yes, a lot of women are into bacon too, but I smell something besides cured meat and smoke coming from bacon; I smell the sweet stench of identity politics.
Read more here.