Because I’ve never wanted to buy MDMA online or do more math than is absolutely necessary to get through this life, I’ve let the cryptocurrency craze pass me by. Just thinking about a Bitcoin or Ethereum chart makes my eyeballs hurt. A few of the novelty coins — the ones based on cute dog memes or backed by Dennis Rodman — have been tempting, but none ever felt quite right. So you can imagine my excitement when processed meat brand Oscar Mayer announced a new cryptocurrency whose value would be directly tied to their bacon. They even invented a rather irritating Silicon Valley character to pitch “Bacoin” as the future of the breakfast economy:
Whatever — they had me at bacon. I thought back on the once-bustling trade in pork bellies, an essential bacon component, in the futures market. That notoriously volatile and fraternal commodity market vanished once and for all from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2011, but now I could hedge on pig meat like the traders of yore. Or so I naïvely assumed. When I visited the Bacoin site, I found I first had to register with my full name, email, and “age range.” Surely, I told myself, the next page would allow me to purchase some Bacoin, but no. After a split-second loading screen, I saw this:
That’s right — you can’t directly buy Bacoin. The only way to acquire it is to log into the site each day and see if you “won” a supposedly random sweepstakes for which the prize is a single Bacoin. I tried registering again, as “Mike Lee,” with a different email address, and I got the same message. As of this moment, despite some wild fluctuations in the value of Bacoin, I’ve only come across a single person who’s “mined” one, though Oscar Mayer promises that 2,000 will be randomly distributed in the course of the promotion, which runs through May 14. Entrants must cash out by May 21.
The thing is, I can’t give up now. Oscar Mayer already got my contact information and general demographic, which is probably all they want — no doubt they’re bolstering some survey research correlating an interest in crypto and a love of bacon and building a profile of the Reddit-using customer — while the potential upside is impressive. Through the afternoon, Bacoin’s price has hovered around 11–14 slices of bacon, meaning a single coin is redeemable for a full pack; if you sold at 42, the theoretical peak, you’d get three free packs. Is Oscar Mayer bacon any good? I have no idea. Do the rules specify which kind of Oscar Mayer bacon — the applewood smoked butcher thick cut or naturally hardwood smoked — you can get for your Bacoin? Not at all. Do I care? NOPE. BACON.
Wait, I lied when I said that Oscar Mayer just wants your data. Unlike real, decentralized cryptocurrencies, Bacoin’s value is driven purely by social media shares. In a way, this is a funny simplification of market speculation — the more buzz, the more the coins are worth, and the house of cards collapses not because the currency is inherently worthless but because you aren’t hyping it enough. I’m guessing it doesn’t hurt Oscar Mayer’s bottom line, however, to glean more email addresses and garner more Twitter and Facebook impressions for the company. Diabolical. Truth be told, I won’t be ashamed to flood my feed with advertising on their behalf, but I sure as hell won’t do it to help other randos get bacon-rich. I have no reason to pump the price until I have at least one Bacoin of my own, at which point I’m incentivized to get the scam trending, then “sell” before it dips back down to a lower, stable price. God, this whole idea is sick.
I suppose, if I wished to circumvent the rules of Oscar Mayer’s gimmick, that I could Venmo a person with Bacoin an agreed-upon amount of money for said Bacoin, which in practical terms means borrowing their identity and email account in order to (ideally) triple my investment — claiming a coupon for three free packs of bacon after spending as much as one pack normally costs. Walmart sells at $5.48 per unit, but I’ll happily round up to $6 to make the trade. If you’ll take $6 in cold, hard cash for your Bacoin and the right to slightly invade your privacy, let me know. Otherwise, it seems like I’m stuck playing the bacon lottery with the rest of the pork-loving suckers out there, all of us resigned to eating eggs and toast with a tragically unoccupied space on the plate. That’s not the free market. Fuck you, Oscar Mayer. Why couldn’t it have been Baloneycoin?