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10 Most Deceptive PR Campaigns in History


10
Bacon Is Good for You
In the 1920s, Bernays got thousands of doctors to say that a heavier breakfast was a healthier breakfast — and bacon and eggs was just the ticket. We've been hooked ever since. Jupiterimages/Thinkstock
In the 1920s, Bernays got thousands of doctors to say that a heavier breakfast was a healthier breakfast — and bacon and eggs was just the ticket. We've been hooked ever since. Jupiterimages/Thinkstock

Back in the 1920s, the Beech-Nut Packing Company wanted to sell more of its bacon. Yes, the same company that now specializes in baby food once also produced peanut butter, coffee, baked beans and chewing gum along with its hit, jarred bacon. Beech-Nut hired Edward Bernays — the nephew of Sigmund Freud, and a PR mastermind — to help it persuade the public that they should be chowing down on more of the porcine product.

At that time in history, Americans enjoyed a fairly simplistic morning meal: coffee and a roll, for example, or perhaps some oatmeal and fruit. Bernays asked the physician working with his public relations firm whether Americans would be healthier if they ate heartier breakfasts. The doctor confirmed this. Bernays then requested he write to 5,000 of his medical colleagues asking them to agree that a heavy breakfast was the best way to start the day due to the loss of energy overnight. "Newspapers had headlines saying 4,500 physicians urge heavier breakfasts," Bernays recalled years later. The publications specifically mentioned bacon and eggs as taking care of the "problem." The campaign was a success for Beech-Nut, and Americans soon developed a taste for bacon and eggs at breakfast [sources: American Table, Funding Universe].

Of course, bacon is also high in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol, none of which are good for you [source: Magee]. But bacon and eggs (with a side of fried potatoes) still defines the classic American breakfast.


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