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The real reason why Americans love bacon for breakfast

How Edward Bernays, the father of public relations, tricked Americans into eating bacon for breakfast. (Video: Daron Taylor, Dani Johnson/The Washington Post)
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There’s a secret history of bacon that almost nobody knows. As we tell in this new video, it involves Sigmund Freud, 4,500 doctors and a man who has been linked to the overthrow of a democratically elected president.

Bacon always had a place on the breakfast table when the majority of Americans lived in rural communities. But after the Industrial Revolution, and during the Progressive Era of the early 1900s, bacon fell out of favor as people turned to newly created packaged cereals and simple breakfasts of coffee, cereal or toast and juice.

Enter Edward Bernays, widely regarded as the father of public relations. Bernays was hired by the Beech-Nut Packing company (of baby food fame) to sell bacon in the 1920s. The move was an unusual one for a company at the time. “It would sort of be like if General Mills hired Weiden and Kennedy to get people back into eating gluten as a health food,” explains Heather Arndt Anderson, author of the book Breakfast: A History.

In the video, Edward Bernays himself describes how his campaign for Beech-Nut became a surprise success.