Where did the bacon meme start?
December 30, 2008 4:49 PM   Subscribe

Where did the bacon internet meme come from?

Everyone knows the phenomenon of bacon on the internet. It has become a cult classic in internet memes and continues to pop up across the internet. What are its roots? Where did the first hint of a bacon meme appear?
posted by bjtitus to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think there's as many lulz about bacon as there are about boobs. It's just one of those Happy Things.
posted by avocet at 4:55 PM on December 30, 2008

The internet meme timeine suggests that the first Bacon related internet meme was The Oracle of Bacon, around January 1996.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:12 PM on December 30, 2008

I think it started with people quoting Homer Simpson's "Mmmm bacon" and it took off from there.
posted by amyms at 5:14 PM on December 30, 2008

I figured it had been around for a while. People sure do love bacon! They even have bacon flavoured bubbles to taunt your dog with!

I wonder, is bacon chatter a constant or does it ebb and flow? Call it confirmation bias if you must, but I've noticed a LOT more bacon memes in the last few weeks.
posted by yellowbinder at 5:18 PM on December 30, 2008

I always assumed it originated from the pre-internet popularity of bacon.
posted by baphomet at 5:32 PM on December 30, 2008 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure (of anything but the fact that I hate it) but it's even bigger than an internet meme. Wrapping other meats in bacon, or making bacon desserts (ice cream, cookies) or drinks seems to be a big trend among the cooking-inclined. The Onion also noticed how meats (specifically bacon) is the new condiment.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:45 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

A 2008 salon article credited jscalzi's taping bacon to a cat with starting the internet obsession (FPP for original incident here). John reacted to the salon article with a seemingly "eh" attitude.
posted by knile at 6:02 PM on December 30, 2008

"Everyone knows the phenomenon of bacon on the internet"

I had no idea what you were talking about until I googled it.
posted by Admira at 6:35 PM on December 30, 2008

90% of shit starts on the place that can't be named.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:13 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Mod note: a few comments removed - the map is not the territory, thank you
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:14 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

That would be 'our jscalzi'. Tremble mere mortal mefians.
posted by sammyo at 7:23 PM on December 30, 2008

As baphomet points out, this is sort of a no-shitter, IMO.

People like to eat bacon +

People like to express their every whim on the internet =

Ergo, people like to talk about bacon on the internet.

This is kind of like saying "where did the sex meme start?"

But if anyone is taking a tally, mark me down as one of the people who is ultra-tired of wide-eyed ingenuous bacon squee.
posted by pineapple at 8:17 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I agree with pineapple, but would like to clarify:

Forced bacon frivolity = lame. Bacon itself? Yum.
posted by desuetude at 8:21 PM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bacon as an item to revere definitely predates the internet. I have a friend who used to arrange beach vacations for a group of us, and would tantalize potential attendees with the promise of unlimited bacon. I have a friend who used to say back in the 80s "I keep kosher, except for bacon." Love of bacon long predates Homer Simpson. Laura Ingalls waxes poetic about bacon in her books; I think bacon gets mentioned admiringly in John Steinbeck and in the Nick Adams stories of Hemingway.

Bacon is like chocolate - it's just insanely good to many palates, and people know that it's really really not a healthy food, but it tastes so yummy and is so satisfying that we indulge anyway. And it is sort of expensive for the small amount of yield you get. Thus it becomes one of those half-guilty pleasures of which there never seems to be quite enough.

So it's not really a meme so much as just something a lot of people really like. But I'm with pineapple. cutesy bacon love a la Archie McPhee's Bacon Band Aids is a little ridiculous. I'd rather eat bacon any day than use it as an identity builder.
posted by Miko at 9:21 PM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

I agree that it's likely a non-/pre-internet thing. "Bacon" is just inherently funny, like monkeys or sporks. And all three aren't just funny as objects, but also as words. And the more people pile on with different twists, the funnier it gets. Also see Rickrolling.

And yeah, the Homer example was a result, not a cause, of bacon's funniness.

As Hillary Clinton once explained in a Letterman Top Ten List of Why She Loves America: "Canadian bacon: soggy and chewy; American bacon: crisp and delicious!"
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:06 PM on December 30, 2008

I'm not really sure but I have definitely wondered the same thing myself. As in "I know my boyfriend will love the Bacon Lover's Gift Pack that I bought him on Woot but I can't really explain why!"
posted by radioamy at 8:13 AM on December 31, 2008

I think there's a difference between bacon's inherent deliciousness/humor and the more recent ubiquity of the meme. Yes, bacon has been popular for a long long time, but was there something on the internet that propelled it to over-saturation; or has the rise to its recent prevalence (especially 2008) been simply a slow build of many small things.

Look at the Metafilter FPPs (excluding Kevin Bacon & slaughterhouse posts) and you can see there's been a significant rise this year building from 2007. knile upthread sounds like might have a useful answer.
posted by yeti at 8:43 AM on December 31, 2008

Yes, bacon has been popular for a long long time, but was there something on the internet that propelled it to over-saturation; or has the rise to its recent prevalence (especially 2008) been simply a slow build of many small things.

Disagree that this has anything to do with the meat itself, or with Scalzi taping bacon to a cat (which actually seems far likelier to be an extension of the 2005-2006 "Stuff on My Cat" meme, which was merely a formalized evolution of "Limecat" -- which I know to be at least as old as 2003, predating lolcats).

Instead I suspect this is an indirect result of the way that the internet today has reached a fever pitch of rewarding the Masters of the Obvious. (Whoa, you mean baby animals are cute? No way. Shut. UP!) It's really precious and brave right now to throw up your hands helplessly and proclaim, "I just love [pedestrian "uncool" thing that everyone else loves too] and I don't care who knows it!"

Which I believe is again just a pop culture backlash against the early-2000's internet trend of Cabal cool: the more exclusive and unattainable and underground something was, the higher it ranked on the hip-o-meter. (And then of course, once everyone loved It, It was passé.)

In the last couple of years, people have figured out that they can do an end-run around Cabal cool by identifying an accessible mainstream (or proletariat) concept and being one of the first to ironically announce its awesomeness. To wit: Cupcakes. Macaroni and cheese. Target. Glazed donuts. Wrangler jeans. Puppies. Pabst Blue Ribbon. Bacon. Cheesy holiday sweaters. See also.

Bacon isn't any more or less awesome than it was before. It's a cheap food that everyone is familiar with that isn't so healthy for you. No breaking news here. But now talking about it is perceived as improving one's social cred. That's more about a slow rolling shift in sociocultural trend online than anything, and trying to discover a singular inarguable birthplace of the meme is likely going to prove fruitless.
posted by pineapple at 10:00 AM on December 31, 2008 [3 favorites]

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