Mississippi Small Town Has The Bacon Bowl Blues

Looks nice.

Looks nice.

It’s easy to seek out and mock infomercial products that solve a need that consumers never knew they had. What jerks like us may not realize, though, is that behind every silly direct-response ad are the hopes of thousands of people. In one case, the future of an entire town in Mississippi could have changed thanks to a single laughable kitchen product: the Bacon Bowl.

We pointed at the fad, laughed, and then turned our attention to other things. For a short time, though, the Bacon Bowl seemed like it could be the salvation of a small town in Mississippi where work is scarce and manufacturing had disappeared. Until the coming of the Bacon Bowl.

The last factory in Port Gibson, Mississippi is U.S. Dinnerware, a company that makes, well, plastic dinnerware. This past fall, they received an order for one million microwaveable plastic Bacon Bowls, and the order gave people in town a few tiny, grease-soaked crumbles of hope.

Yet two factors worked against U.S. Dinnerware. The company that marketed the bowls was Allstar Products Group, the company behind the hottest direct-response product of 2009, the Snuggie. How busy do you think Snuggie factories are now? Allstar had Perfect Bacon Bowls made in China and in Mississippi, then pushed U.S. Dinnerware to get the prices down. No more orders for bowls came, though: Allstar told the Wall Street Journal that it has plenty of inventory to cover future demand for the plastic bowls. Of course it does: the initial marketing push is over.

U.S. Dinnerware hired 60 new workers. That seems tiny unless you know that it previously only employed 15 people. They had 500 applicants for those jobs, since many people in town had been unemployed for years. The new workers have now been laid off, and things are back to the way they were. Except for the tens of thousands of Perfect Bacon Bowls stacked up in the U.S. Dinnerware factory.

How the ‘Bacon Bowl’ Gave Hope to a Tiny Town—Then Left for China [Wall Street Journal]

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