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Bacon in VR? Hormel weds deliciousness and immersiveness

Hormel's virtual-reality experience explores your bacon cravings.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
Expertise Erin has been a tech reporter for almost 10 years. Her reporting has taken her from the Johnson Space Center to San Diego Comic-Con's famous Hall H. Credentials
  • She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Erin Carson
3 min read
Picasa, Getty Images/EyeEm

My mouth began watering even before I put on the VR headset.

In the middle of the work day, Hormel's Black Label Bacon virtual-reality experience was the closest thing I was going to get to the real thing.

Available today, a trip to BlackLabelBacon.com will put you smack in the middle of four different bacon-centric VR worlds: Salty Sea, The Vastness of Variety, Jalapeño Volcano and the Cherry Woods.

Each world is a black and white surrealist creation. The Jalapeño Volcano, for example, puts the users amid lava with floating jalapeños, cacti, a glowing "Spicy" sign and all the bubbling and sizzling sounds imaginable.

Navigating through the worlds will eventually get you to a crispy brown strip of bacon, suspended in all its greasy glory. Focus on the bacon, and you'll get a parts explosion of sorts, highlighting the bacon's flavors. All that in the name of "creating an abstract way to implore bacon cravings," Hormel said.

Enlarge Image

Virtual reality and bacon: a magical partnership.


Think of it as one of the more out-there uses of virtual reality, a technology trend that's sweeping virtually every company. In this case, the VR experience isn't just for entertainment purposes, but to get you hankering for bacon. You can buy bacon after a quick redirect from the VR experience to Hormel's website.

This is a VR experience with a total sensory twist. It's not just the sound, the look and the taste -- it's, of course, also the smell. That's why Hormel is giving away a limited number of Black Label Bacon branded Google Cardboard headsets with a scratch-and-sniff bacon sticker on the bottom. They'll be available on the Hormel website. If you already have a Google Cardboard, you can also use that or view the worlds without a headset at all.

But let's take a step back. Why put bacon in virtual reality?

Aside from the fact that both have been described as "magical" at various points, it comes down to the pairing of the timeless and the cutting edge, Hormel's Vice President of Marketing Steve Venenga said in an interview.

"One of the things we get asked is 'when is the bacon craze going to stop?'" he said. "Why would it stop? Why would you stop loving bacon?"

Bacon is, indeed, having a moment. You can buy anything from bacon bandages and body wash, to bacon-scented candles and lip balm.

This isn't Hormel's first turn with bacon and unconventionality. In 2014, Hormel retrofitted a motorcycle to run on bacon grease, and drove it from Austin, Minnesota, to San Diego. Hormel also partnered with artist Reggie Watts to make a music video where Watts sampled sounds from the process of cooking bacon.

Hormel isn't even the first 100-plus-year-old brand to embrace 360-experiences. In July, whiskey distillery Jack Daniel's created at 360-degree tour of its distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

Venenga said Hormel's still cool with folks going to the store to pick up a pack or three of bacon, but they wanted to try out a new way to buy.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have an urgent pork-related matter to attend to.