Bacon or "bacoun" was a Middle English term used to refer to all pork in general. The term bacon comes from various Germanic and French dialects. It derives from the French bako, Old High German bakko, and Old Teutonic backe, all of which refer to the back. There are breeds of pigs particularly raised for bacon, notably the Yorkshire and Tamworth.
The phrase “bring home the bacon” comes from the 12th century when a church in Dunmow, England offered a side of bacon to any man who could swear before God and the congregation that he had not fought or quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. Any man that could "bring home the bacon" was highly respected in his community.
Bacon Throughout History
According to food historians, the Romans ate a type of bacon which they called petaso, which was essentially domesticated pig meat boiled with figs, then browned and seasoned with pepper sauce.
Bacon, a relatively easy to produce and cheap meat source, becomes a staple for European peasants. Smoked Bacon is considered the highest quality.
John Harris, an Englishman, is credited as the forefather of large scale industrial bacon manufacturing. He opened his company in Wiltshire, still considered the bacon capital of the world.
Oscar Mayer introduces pre-packaged, pre-sliced bacon to America.
Bacon has become super popular, with mebsites, blogs, a Wikia (Hey! look at me!), t-shirts and a plethora of products all appreciating the goodness that is Bacon.
- Bacon is one of the oldest cuts of meat in history; dating back to 1500 BC.
- In the 16th Century, European peasants would proudly display the small amount of bacon they could afford.
- The Yorkshire and Tamworth pigs are bred specifically for bacon.
- 70% of all bacon in the US is eaten at breakfast time.
- More than 2 billion pounds of bacon is produced each year in the US.
- Until the first world war, bacon fat was the cooking fat of choice in most US households, when prepackaged pig lard became commonly available.
"Bacon. Etyomologically, bacon means meat from the 'back of an animal'. The word appears to come from a prehistoric Germanic base *bak-, which was also the source of English back. Germanic bakkon passed into Frankish bako, which French borrowed as bacon. English acquired the word in the twelfth century, and seems at first to have used it as a synonym for the native term flitch, 'side of cured pig meat'. By the fourteenth century, however, we find it being applied to the cured meat itself..." 
"Bacon originally meant pork of any type, fresh or cured, but this older usage had died out by the 17th century. Bacon, in the modern sense, is peculiarly a product of the British Isles, or is produced abroad to British methods...Preserved pork, including sides salted to make bacon, held a place of primary importance in the British diet in past centuries....British pigs for both fresh and salted meat had been much improved in the 18th century. The first large-scale bacon curing business was set up in the 1770s by John Harris in Wiltshire...Wiltshire remains the main bacon-producing area of Britain..."
"Hams and bacon were either dry-salted or barreled in their own brine. The Romans recognized ham (perna) and shoulder bacon (petaso) as two separate meats, and different recipes for preparing them for the table. According to Apicius both were to be first boiled with dried figs, but ham could then be baked in a flour with paste, while bacon was to be browned and served with a wine and pepper sauce...Bacon fat or lard was in particular favor among the Anglo-Saxons who used it for cooking and also as a dressing for vegetables...[Medieval] Country folk ate their bacon with peas or bean pottage or with 'joutes'."
- An A-Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 14-5)
- Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 47)
- Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century, C. Anne Wilson [Academy Chicago:Chicago] 1991 (p. 74, 77 & 88)