Deploy the Mildly Ironic Bacon Product! (Part 1)


An op-ed by Charlie Hopper (excerpted from the Summer 2012 issue of Food & Drink magazine)

How do you get people to show up ready to swipe their debit card?

Let’s see. There’s prime location. There’s word-of-mouth and consumer/media reviews. There’s crushing media buys that hammer your name into the part of people’s brains that will still function autonomically after they’re well into their dotage. There’s …there’s….um. Hm.

Well, there’s bacon.

Everyone knows bacon is on the ascendant. Thicker bacon, higher stacks of bacon, more styles of bacon, sandwiches with bacon in their name: it’s America’s Finest Bacon Hour. Have you heard about the Jack In The Box Bacon Shake? The Denny’s Maple Bacon Sundae? The Bacon Sundae Burger King is testing in Nashville as I type this? Of course you have.

At this point, it’s not “Me too.” It’s more like “Oh! I thought of another one!”

I don’t suppose those products will make or break their brands. But the curious, the gluttonous, the ironically hip and the adventurous will probably all park, come in, and try some of that action.

Meanwhile, just in case your bacon supplier is jacking up prices in this bull pig market, I was trying to come up with alternatives to the bacon-made sales-surge strategy. Here’s a few. It’s not an exhaustive list. Thought-starters, we’ll call them.

1. Allow New Product Brainstorming To Bust Through Your Dyke of Self-Restraint. So To Speak.

I’m thinking cheese, aren’t you? Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits have a Facebook page and almost a million fans. And I’m not sure how many and which types of cheese we’re getting on the latest pizza and taco limited time offers these days.

In some circles in which I circulate, the now-clearly-inevitable co-branded coupling of Nacho Cheese Doritos and Taco Bell—“Locos Tacos”—have been not just a topic of conversation, but the.

Also, there’s the wonderful-horrible-sounding deep-fried product. State Fairs have made this into a joke-beyond-a-joke, but those influential Awesome Blossoms and Bloomin’ Onions have staying power. What do you have in the walk-in you could throw in the oil vat?

Just be ready for the outpouring of love/hate in social media. Prepare to deal with Yelp if you deep-fry a sundae or something.

Word of Warning: remember that comedian Patton Oswalt got famous partly by merely accurately describing KFC’s Famous bowl, that mashed-potatoes-and-gravy-corn-breaded-chicken-strips “failure pile in a sadness bowl.” That’s not what we’re going for here.

(to be continued, tomorrow…)