Sliced Bacon was Invented in Indiana But Its Creators Don’t Seem to Get Credit for It
I could start this piece by going on and on and on and on about how wonderful bacon is. I could talk about how great it is to eat on its own, or how much better it makes other foods, like hamburgers, when paired together. I could suggest that whoever first figured out that curing pork resulted in the savory deliciousness that is bacon should be strongly considered for sainthood. That's what I could do, but I won't because you already know all that. I mean, you clicked on this article because you saw the word, "bacon," right? If you didn't believe all these things, you wouldn't be here.
No, that's not how I'll start this journey. Instead, I'll start with a theory. One that I will try to make a convincing argument for as we move forward. That theory is this; the Indiana company that invented sliced bacon doesn't get the notoriety it deserves because the people behind another well-known meat company had the foresight to patent the process despite the fact they didn't start doing it until a decade later. That company is the one whose baloney has a first name. It's O-S-C-A-R, and one who's baloney also has a second name. It's M-A-Y-E-R.
Come with me as I attempt to connect the dots.
Sliced Bacon Was Invented in Indiana in 1914
I first learned of this little fun fact through Only in Your State. However, not one to take things at face value, I decided to do a little digging to see if what it was telling me was true. The short answer appeared to be, "Yes." The Kingan & Company, whose facility once sat on the location that is now the Indianapolis Zoo (approximate location pictured above), is credited for being the first meat company to package pre-sliced bacon for consumer use in 1914 according to the Illinois Railways Museum in a piece discussing how the meat was distributed by railcar. A 2015 article on the history of food in Indianapolis by Dawn Mitchell with the Indianapolis Star also lists 1914 as the year the company revolutionized the bacon game.
Side Note: Prior to this invention, bacon was sold in slabs. It was up to the consumer to slice it themselves.
Kingan & Company is Not the First Result in Sliced Bacon Inventor Search
Just to be extra safe and do my due diligence, I searched "who invented sliced bacon" to verify the findings, but Kingan & Company's name didn't come up in the top results. Instead, several websites, including the Meat Institute, Butcher Box, and Family Tree all credit the Oscar Mayer company for being the first to sell pre-sliced, pre-packaged bacon in the United States.
Why is that? My theory is this — Oscar Mayer patented the process before Kingan & Company, therefore giving them the credit for inventing sliced bacon.
According to Meat Institute, Oscar Mayer began packaging and selling pre-sliced bacon 10 years after Kingan & Company in 1924 "for which it received a U.S. Patent." I can't find any record of Kingan & Company getting a patent for their version. What I did find on page 218 of the 1936 book, the Index of Trademarks Issued from the United States Patent Office is that Kingan & Company trademarked sliced bacon 12 years later in 1936.
The Difference Between a Patent and a Trademark
The United States Patent and Trademark Office defines a patent as the following:
Technical inventions, such as chemical compositions like pharmaceutical drugs, mechanical processes like complex machinery, or machine designs that are new, unique, and usable in some type of industry.
A trademark, on the other hand, is defined as:
A word, phrase, design, or a combination that identifies your goods or services, distinguishes them from the goods or services of others, and indicates the source of your goods or services.
So, the way I see it, Kingan may have invented the process for it, but Oscar Mayer was smart enough to take that process, patent it (making it a matter of public record), and make it theirs which also gives them the credit for creating it.
Again, this is all just a theory on my part based on what I researched. I could easily be way off base. That's why it's called a "theory." If you have evidence to support the theory, or some to contradict it, feel free to send it my way. Until then, if you live in Indiana, the next time you see someone enjoying some delicious-sliced bacon, tell them, "you're welcome."
On second thought, don't. That would be weird.