And yet, that didn't stop J&D's Foods—the creators of Bacon Salt®—from inventing, or at least bringing to market, the bacon-scented pillow case.
Discovered via The Consumerist, the company's website proclaims “the future of sleep is here, and... it smells like cured meat. Our bacon-scented pillowcase uses advances in printing technology to allow the scent of bacon to permeate your dreams and expand your mind.”
Apparently the scent can survive for 6-12 months with proper care, and they list several effects that “your sweet bacony sleep experience may or may not have,” including “dreams of happy things—like bacon for breakfast or rolling around in a pile of bacon.”
could ham-boys dream of cured meats?
I don't fault these guys for capitalizing on one of the internet's most reliable gimmicks—I do sort of blame America broadly for letting this become one of the most reliable gimmicks, but that's just my way. And I doubt that even J&D's believe that you'll dream about bacon just because you have a bacon-scented pillowcase.
Still, I've had dreams where I'm freezing somewhere, only to wake up to find that the heater isn't working. The cheeses you eat can, apparently, impact your dreams—cheddar makes you dream about celebrities, stilton makes you have weird dreams, Red Lancashire makes you have nostalgic dreams. So, as repulsive as the notion of a bacon-scented pillow might be, could ham-boys dream of cured meats?
The scientific literature on scent-induced dreams is mildly inconclusive, but the answer mostly looks like no, with a slight “however.”
In the 1860s, a French (I know, right?) scholar and physician named Alfred Murray conducted some very dubious experiments on himself to test whether scents influence our dreams. Dany Mitzman wrote about Murray for the BBC:
[Murray] instructed an assistant to put eau de Cologne under his nose while he was asleep. On awakening, he reported that he had dreamt he was in Cairo, in the workshop of Giovanni Maria Farina, the perfumer who invented cologne, before embarking on an exciting series of adventures.
Murray knew the name of the perfumer who invented cologne, went to sleep after instructing someone to put cologne under his nose and, lo and behold, reported dreaming about him. Mitzman doesn't give very many other details, but like I said, it seems pretty dubious.
In the same article, a professor of psychiatry at Brown University named Rachel Herz told Mitzman that her research and experiments indicate people don't respond to odors while they are in the dreaming phase of sleep or in deep sleep.
"You don't smell the coffee and wake up; rather you wake up and then smell the coffee," Herz told Mitzman.
So you won't dream about bacon, but other research indicates that J&D's might be onto something when it comes to bacon giving you pleasant dreams.
Boris Stuck of the University Hospital Mannheim, Germany, gave sleeping test subjects a whiffs of either rose-scented or rotten egg-scented air once they reached the REM cycle. Then after another minute, he woke them up.
Those who got the rose-scented air reported having more pleasant dreams. Those who got a whiff of farty-egg air reported having negatively tinted dreams.
However, no one reported dreaming about roses, rotten eggs, or anything else relating to the smells themselves.
"There was hardly any kind of a dream dealing with smelling and tasting," Stuck told National Geographic.
So, no, you won't dream about bacon just due to the scent. You might have more pleasant dreams, if bacon is something you like, and you might start dreaming negatively about bacon if your would-be bed companion leaves the room because “it smells like bacon in here," which is, understandably, not for everyone. Shop accordingly.