book In 2002, this book helped shift bacon from prank ingredient to legitmate ingredient.

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here’s an ad campaign making the rounds on the internet today, introducing Scope’s newest mouthwash flavor: bacon. Scope’s Bacon-Flavored Mouthwash has it’s own website, its own commercial, its own image on Scope’s Facebook page—everything that would be part of an actual product promotion. Of course, today is April 1st, and savvy web surfers know better than to trust anything they read right now.

But behind this silly prank lies a much larger, still unacknowledged prank—one that’s been going on for years and has grown far bigger than anyone ever imagined. Of course bacon mouthwash is a joke, but the entire trend of bacon as a flavoring was always intended to be a prank.

It began as a private joke among a few influential chefs who wanted to trick one of their colleagues, who had a reputation for stealing the ideas of his competitors. At a restaurateurs’ conference in 1986, the chefs jokingly remarked that they had begun using bacon as a “secret ingredient” in a variety of unlikely foods.

Of course bacon mouthwash is a joke, but the entire trend of bacon flavoring was always intended to be a prank.

“They told him they were putting bacon in everything: in ice cream, in mints, in vodka,” a source claiming to been present at the conference told us. “They even said they were wrapping other meat in bacon. It was hilarious. No one suspected how far the joke would go.”

condoms Bacon condoms might just be the dumbest thing ever.

By the end of the year, bacon was being hailed as the “ingredient of the year,” and in 2002, the chefs who originally perpetrated the prank were aghast to learn of the publication of Everything Tastes Better With Bacon. Even more shocking was the fact that the book sold 300,000 copies in the first month of publication.

The rest is, as we all know, history. Bacon has been called “ingredient of the year” by various publications in 2004, 2006, and 2008. Earlier this year, the blog wholewheatfsm named 2013 “The Year of Bacon.”

 Even before the Scope prank, several other products were released that were widely assumed to be a joke: bacon-flavored toothpicks, a bacon air-fresherner, bacon-flavored dental floss, and even bacon-flavored condoms.

We tracked down one of the chefs involved in the original bacon “prank,” who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity.

“It’s just ridiculous. I mean, it’s not hurting anyone,” the mystery chef told us. “Well it’s probably killing some people who are clogging their arteries, but you know what I mean. The pork industry loves it, the public loves it, so there’s really no harm done.”

But the chef still shakes his head in wonder every time someone mentions bacon-infused or bacon-wrapped or bacon-flavored anything.

“They do know it’s just a ton of salt, right?”