Bacon: we all want it. We all can’t get enough of it. We all dream about it. At most times, simply thinking about it makes us crave it. Does this sound like something else we all want? That’s right – money. But the resemblance doesn’t just end there. If you are thinking of visiting the Burning Man festival next year, here’s something to remember: bring bacon. When there is no civilization, apparently, bacon is as good as money.

Bacon is pretty valuable

This isn’t surprising. We’ve already discussed that “bacon” – as in, “bring home the bacon” – has been slang for money since early in the last century. And we save our money in “piggy banks.” When politicians give money or pay for the building of stuff in their home town, they are accused of doling out “pork.” Bacon is pretty valuable. It’s only natural that it would be considered equivalent to money.

When in doubt, bacon stands in for money

But I was surprised to hear that bacon actually gets used for money. Cathleen, a visitor to the Burning Man festival, reminds us that the festival is entirely based on the barter system – you can’t use any money at all. So when people go, they tend to bring extra goodies to trade with other festival-goers. Cathleen goes to the festival often, and she reports that bacon, along with pancakes and tuna (??) tend to be the most popular stand-in for money.

Cathleen can’t figure out why. It may have something to do with the heat of the place. When people are getting dehydrated by the sun, they crave salty foods. As well, since the event takes place in the desert – and is so hot and far away – most of the food available is vegetarian or processed, to ensure that it doesn’t go bad. Meat is probably something folks end up craving.

In any case, Cathleen has found that bacon opens doors. The last time she went, she got to the front of a long pancake line simply by mentioning she had bacon. Bacon: it’s not just like money – it’s also a VIP pass!

Not just for Burning Men

The Foo Fighters even go one further. It was recently reported that on their rider – the list of things the band needs at every stop they visit – they put down bacon as essential. Why? Because bacon is “God’s currency”: “Bacon. I call it ‘God’s currency.’ Hell, if it could be breathed, I would.” They went on to say that “Bacon in any form is great.” I’m not sure what God’s currency means – is it what God pays people in? – but I like the idea.

And finally, if you can’t use bacon as money, you can at least put it in a bacon wallet. The wallet is made of hardy vinyl with a red and white striped pattern on the outside. As the makers point out, “Bacon is perhaps the most viable form of currency the world has ever known.” Unfortunately, it isn’t currency yet (outside of the Burning Man festival), so until it is, this might be the next best bet. In fact, if you want to, you could even put bacon in your wallet. As the makers say, “At least you’ll always know where you meat is.”

Do you think Bacon would make the best currency if money wasn’t available? What do you think the draw back would be?