Just how did Benton's Bacon become a craze?

Benton's Bacon

Benton's Bacon has gone totally viral in the last couple of years.

Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams, the Madisonville, Tenn., maker of hams and bacon has become something of a food legend in the Internet age. At a recent checkup, my doctor recommended trying Benton's Bacon (he was not extolling its healthful benefits, but, hey, compared to most cereal ...) and then the bag boy at Butler and Bailey commented on how much he liked as he was bagging it at the checkout counter.

How did the albeit excellent products of the company, started by a dairy farmer in 1947 in rural East Tennessee, because a connoisseur item for serious foodies (and others) in places like New York City? Dunno. Good products and a lot of media sizzle is my best guess.

In the Knoxville News Sentinel's electronic archives (which date back to September 1990), the earliest mention I could find of the company and its now legendary hams and bacon is a 1995 feature by reporter Morgan Simmons.

Today, it's often mentioned when serious foodies turn to talking country hams and bacon.

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