I got the call at 1:00 AM on Monday. Yes, one o’clock in the morning.
“I heard about your bacon jams, they’re all I’ve been able to think about,” came from a booming yet soothing baritone. “Get on your way down to Washington so you can be here in time for breakfast. Bring one of each flavor with you.”
Disoriented and confused if I was dreaming or really awake, my initial instinct was to correct him and say we prefer to refer to them as “varieties” instead of “flavors.” Instead, I managed to get out the most natural words:
“Uh, who is this?”
“Seriously, how do you not recognize this voice? It’s Barack Obama, and I want The Bacon Jams for my Presidents’ Day breakfast! 5:30 AM sharp, be here.”
Then he hung up.
I sat there frozen, dazed and dumbfounded for what felt like forever. Ha, very funny. No doubt that one of my friends, off from work Monday and out on the town imbibing, was playing a practical joke on me. Why would the President even be up at 1:00 AM?! Then I checked the source number on my phone, 202-456-1111.
Google confirmed what my brain refused to comprehend: The call had come directly from the White House. Could this all be some kind of practical joke? Of course, highly likely in fact, but I didn’t need more convincing. I sprang out of bed, shaved, showered, brushed my teeth, threw on both my pink James Bacon and Bacon American Flag shirts for good luck with a full suit over top, put a few three-pack samplers with recipe guides into pink bags and hopped in my car. I was on the road to D.C. by 2:00, not sure what I was doing and fully understanding I was crazy — but also knowing it was a risk I had to take.
The ride was relaxing and pensive. Just me, darkness and the open road of I-95 South. What would I say? What would I tell him to put The Bacon Jams on first? Could we play basketball after??? You know, if he didn’t have a National Security Council meeting or something.
I got a coffee at a 24-hour rest stop in northern Maryland to keep me going. The inquisitive lady behind the counter rightfully asked where I was headed in a full suit at such an hour.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” I said.
“I’m going to have breakfast with Barack Obama.”
“ … As in President Barack Obama?”
“Yeah, that’s the one.”
“Sure, ok. Have fun with that, you weirdo.”
I arrived outside the White House and parked on a nearby side street at 4:30, an hour before breakfast was scheduled to start. I approached the gate in the frigid cold — a guy in a suit and overcoat, holding two pink bags under the pitch-black shroud of the early morning hours. More bizarre than anything, I still must have broken the 1-10 scale for suspiciousness.
Here goes nothing, I thought, as I slowly moved my trembling finger towards the intercom button.
One second passed, then another. It might as well have been an eternity. I was going to have to turn around, walk back to my car, drive home to Philly in immense shame and pretend this never happened.
“State your business,” the voice on the other end ordered abruptly.
“Um… well… I know this is going to sound ridiculous… ah screw it, I have bacon jam here for the President’s breakfast.”
“Oh! Wonderful, he said he’d be expecting you. I can’t wait to try your bacon jams myself! Please, come in.”
The gate opened and I walked through, pinching myself the whole way up to the main entrance since there’s no possible way this was real life.
I was greeted at the door by two members of the Secret Service, patted down and searched. The jars of bacon jam were opened and inspected. Then one of the Secret Service men, belying his stoic nature and grinning ever so slightly, said he had to taste each one just to make sure they weren’t poisonous.
“This is some good… well, you know,” he remarked. “The President’s gonna love these.”
I was led to a private dining room and observed the layout. It did not disappoint, as every breakfast food known to man was there. Soon after, the door swung open and that familiar voice bellowed, “Let’s break out The Bacon Jams!”
I swiveled around, took a deep breath and tried not to trip over myself as I approached him with my open hand extended.
“Hello, Mr. President,” I said as we shook. “Thank you so much for inviting me and wanting to try our jams. I can’t wait to get started.”
“I’m a huge bacon fan, and I’ll give anything with bacon a shot,” he said. “Oh, and call me Barack.”
“You got it, Mr. President!”
First up: Eggs. True to form, he went with the Mediterranean omelette. Grape tomatoes, scallions, olives and feta cheese. He turned towards me, and I knew what I had to do.
“Scoop some of this Black Pepper in there, my man,” I instructed the chef as I handed him the jar.
Next: Hash browns. Time for Red Chile & Garlic, which the chef combined with olive oil to coat the skillet before adding the julienned potatoes.
Lastly: Fruit. I urged the mixture of the sweet All Original with a pineapple, melon and strawberry medley.
As we sat down to enjoy our meals, a side of toast and a few strips of bacon were placed in front of the President.
“Put all three bacon jams on the toast and on the bacon strips,” I suggested. “Trust me.”
Obama did just that, then cut a piece of the omelette, put a strip of bacon on top and slapped both onto the piece of toast. As he raised the mini open sandwich to his mouth, I started to sweat in nervous anticipation and closed my eyes. What if he didn’t like it? What if I had just ruined his whole breakfast? What if I came all this way for failure? What if I’m about to get awkwardly escorted out of the White House by the Secret Service?
“Oh my, are you kidding me?!”
I opened my eyes just in time to see an ear-to-ear smile spread across the President's face.
“Yeah, that hits the spot,” he said, beaming with foodphoria (made-up word that should become a real word). “I can’t believe I’ve been doing breakfast without The Bacon Jams all this time!”
He devoured the rest of his breakfast, adding bacon jam to anything and everything.
“Even if I only have time for toast in the morning, this is going on it,” he said.
“Well, which of The Bacon Jams varieties was your favorite?” I asked.
“Come on, that’s like asking me to choose between Michelle, Malia and Sasha,” he responded. “I love all three equally.”
After finishing breakfast, Obama turned to me and asked, “Hey, you want to shoot hoops real quick?”
My eyes lit up.
“OF COURSE!” I exclaimed.
“Just kidding,” he chuckled. “I have a National Security Council meeting right now. Maybe next time. I really do love The Bacon Jams, though, and appreciate you making the trip down. I can’t wait to put this stuff on my lunch and dinner foods — burgers, steak, ribs, salmon, scallops, think of all the possibilities! It’s going to be on every table, a staple accompanying each meal. Be sure to keep the White House fully stocked with The Bacon Jams at all times.”
We shook hands again and said goodbye. Just like that, he was on his way towards the door.
“Wait!” I yelled after him, undoing my tie and unbuttoning my shirt to reveal the Bacon American Flag tee. “I have to leave this with you.”
Obama squinted to get a better look, as it registered in his head that the stripes on the flag were bacon strips.
“Yes, you certainly do!” He replied with vigor. “That’s awesome. I mean, it doesn’t get any more American than bacon and the flag of the United States combined into one. Make sure you send more of those shirts with the jams.”
The whirlwind of that morning still hasn’t hit me. It was so surreal, so ludicrous, that I still don’t believe it happened.
The only bummer is that the Secret Service forbade me from taking pictures, understandably.
“Come on, guys, you know how well this will play on social media — think about our brand!” I begged and pleaded, to no avail.
I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.