Hormel has created a custom motorcycle that runs on 100 percent refined bacon grease. The bike is part of a marketing effort to promote Hormel's Black Label brand, and an entire story around the marketing stunt from ad agency BBDO can be found at BaconBike.com.
Why a bacon bike?
"It was more like, 'Why wouldn't you do that?'" said Steve Venenga, Hormel VP of new products marketing. "I mean, it was such a great idea."
Hormel is hoping to make inroads against market leader Oscar Mayer, part of Kraft. The company's shares have outperformed Kraft over the last year, and , giving partial credit to strong pork demand and margins.
"Bacon is in more households," said Venenga, even as prices are 9 percent higher than they were a year ago. Price increases are starting to slow, however, and lean hog futures have been falling.
Is bacon an efficient fuel source?
"It's incredible on the road, it's a one-of-a-kind bike," said actor Eric Pierson, who was hired by Hormel to ride the bike from headquarters in Austin, Minnesota, to the company-sponsored International Bacon Film Festival in San Diego this weekend (yes, that is a thing).
Pierson even rode the bike to the annual Harley gathering in Sturgis, South Dakota, which he admits was a little intimidating.
He said plenty of "gearheads" asked about the bike. "It started out as a stock bike from the Netherlands," he said, before being customized in Minnesota. The finished product includes a seat made of pigskin, naturally, "which is pretty awesome."
The Bacon Bike gets about 80 to 100 miles on a gallon of fuel, which is pretty similar to regular diesel.
And while Hormel said turning bacon grease into fuel didn't cost much more than refining regular fuel, the cost in raw materials is prohibitive: It takes about 30 pounds of bacon to produce one gallon of grease, and it takes a little more than a gallon of grease to produce one gallon of fuel.
This is not about producing an edible biofuel, "but wouldn't that be great?" asked Venenga. The stunt is really to raise brand awareness and prepare the public for new products, like an updated version of a precooked, ready-to-eat bacon which is a bit like jerky, only chewier.
But wait, there's more! "This is allowing us to take our bacon to the next level, to introduce some new flavors in the marketplace this fall," Venenga said, "whether it be a jalapeno, or a cherry wood, or a brown sugar."
Jalapeno bacon? "You want to eat it slowly and carefully."
The best part about a bike that runs on bacon? The exhaust smells like breakfast.
As Homer Simpson might say, "Mmmmm. Bacon."
—By CNBC's Jane Wells