Origin of the Word “Bacon”

Daven Hiskey August 30, 2010 5
BaconToday I Found Out the origin of the word “bacon”.

The word derives originally from the Old High German “bacho”, meaning “buttock”, which in turn derived from the Proto-Germanic “backoz”, meaning “back”.  By the 14th century, it found its way into Old French as “bacun”, meaning “back meat”.  And by the 16th century, it found its way into Middle English as “bacoun”, which referred to all cured pork, not just the back meat.

Bonus Facts:

  • The USDA defines “bacon” as “the cured belly of a swine carcass”… mmm swine carcass…
  • The phrase “bring home the bacon” has been around since the early 20th century and was initially used primarily by the working class, with bacon being a staple meat for that class.
  • The difference between bacon and salted pork or ham is primarily in the brine used.  Brine for bacon often includes sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, and saltpeter for curing the meat; sodium ascorbate for setting the color, as well as speeding up the curing process; and brown or maple sugar for flavor, among other ingredients.  One of the principle differences is that brine for ham tends to have a much higher concentration of sugar.
  • American Bacon, or “streaky bacon” as the British call it, is generally cut from the fatty sides of a pig’s belly.  Canadian Bacon, known as “back bacon” to the British, who apparently like to have their own names for everything bacon related, is made up of the tender loins located on the back of pigs.
  • In continental Europe, the part of the pig American Bacon is made from is typically sliced into cubes and used as a cooking ingredient due to its high fat and rich flavor.
  • Bacon actually is good for the brains of unborn children.  Bacon contains a nutrient called choline which has been shown to boost the intelligence of people, if they got a lot of it before they were born.  You can also get choline from eggs, liver, milk, chicken, and various nuts.
  • Records of bacon being made go all the way back to around 1500 B.C. in China.  Bacon was also popular with the Greeks and Romans.
  • A 200 pound pig will yield close to 20 pounds of bacon, among other popular meat products.
  • The patron saint of bacon is Saint Anthony the abbot.  He’s also the patron saint of swine herders, butchers, epilepsy, amputees, shingles, gravediggers, hermits, lost items, and Canas Brazil.

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5 Comments »

  1. Steve August 30, 2010 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    You’ve done this one before and I should have taken you to task then, but just on the point about the Brits renaming your American and Canadian bacon. You might find it is the other way round…

    All the best from Sunny Britain,

    Steve.

    • Daven Hiskey
      Daven Hiskey August 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      I never said the British renamed it, I said they have their own names for it which is different than most of the rest of the English speaking world. :-)

  2. Elmien18 December 23, 2010 at 6:00 am - Reply

    We South Africans call it the same as the British. Probably because we were a British colony at some point:) Great site BTW.

  3. Patty O'Heater July 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Bacon was invented in Britain so the British can call it whatever they wish.

  4. Canuckie May 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    I must say, in Canada, we don’t say Canadian bacon either. Nor do we say American bacon.
    I’ve always heard it as just: bacon, back bacon, or ham.

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