Do you love bacon? Who doesn’t, right? When we see bacon on the breakfast plate, we squeal with delight and can’t wait to pig out!

From time to time, you may have heard the phrase “bring home the bacon.” Did you ever wonder what that means? It sounds like what you might want to hear your parents say when they return from the grocery store.

Actually, though, “bring home the bacon” is a common phrase used to mean earning money. If you’re “bringing home the bacon,” then you’re making money to bring home to your family. It’s also used sometimes to mean that, not only are you earning money, but you’re also successful and earning a lot of money.

So how did tasty strips of pork come to be associated with making money? That’s a question with several possible answers. There are several theories about the origin of the phrase.

One popular story holds that the phrase originated in the 1100s in the small town of Great Dunmow in Essex, England. According to local legend, the church in Great Dunmow would award a side of bacon (called a “flitch”) to any man who could honestly say that he had not argued with his wife for a year and a day. Any such man would “bring home the bacon” and be considered a role model.

Others believe the phrase got started in the 1500s at country fairs. One of the most popular contests at these fairs involved catching a greased pig. Obviously, this was not easy to do. The prize for catching the pig was that you got to keep it. So, if you won, you got to “bring home the bacon.”

These old tales may have some truth to them, but other experts believe the phrase is a modern American saying that dates back no farther than the early 1900s. Bacon didn’t always mean the strips of pork we think of today. Years ago, bacon was used to refer to all pork, in general.

The word bacon itself comes from old German and French words for “back,” since the best cuts of pork come from the back and sides of the animal. Since the 1600s, the word “bacon” has been used as a slang term for one’s body. Because people often associate the body with one’s ability to work and earn money, it’s believed that bacon eventually took on that connotation, too.

One way of earning money with one’s body back then was the sport of boxing. It’s from this context that the first ever recorded use of the phrase comes. On September 3, 1906, boxer Joe Gans fought Oliver Nelson for the world lightweight championship in Goldfield, Nevada.

According to the Reno Evening Gazette, Joe received a telegram from his mother before the fight. It read: “Joe, the eyes of the world are on you. Everybody says you ought to win. Peter Jackson will tell me the news and you bring home the bacon.”

Joe Gans did win the fight and the prize money that went along with the victory. He sent a telegram back to his mother, saying that he was indeed “[b]ringing home the bacon.”

Mrs. Gans was probably repeating a phrase she had heard and used before, but hers was the first usage that experts can find. Before long, the phrase was being used commonly in boxing, and it also quickly moved to other sports.

50 Join the Discussion

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  1. The bacon and eggs looked really good.

    We are working hard and learning lots so that we can bring home the bacon when we grow up!

    -We think tomorrow’s wonder might be about a little boy going crazy over butter!
    -Or, a boy bouncing off the walls, crazy about butter.
    -Throwing butter everywhere.
    -Maybe a balloon fight with butter in the balloons instead of water.

    • We LOVE the enthusiasm in Mrs. Bayko’s class! Thanks for sharing your comment today– we are glad you enjoyed the recipe-video about bacon and eggs, too! Keep up the hard work so you can bring home that bacon in the future! :)

      Thank you for sharing your awesome guesses for tomorrow’s buttery Wonder! We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow will bring! :)

  2. We love bacon! That made us hungry. Please send us bacon! We now know that “bring home the bacon” means make a lot of money! Can’t wait for tomorrow.

    • These WONDERful students in Mrs. Valdez’s 4th Grade Class have us laughing and smiling! We are so glad you learned how to “bring home the bacon” with us today! We Wonder what kinds of bacon-featured recipes these students like to make! We can’t wait to Wonder with you again– thank you for sharing your comments, Wonder Friends! :)

    • Thanks for your WONDERful comment today, Verlene! We are excited to uncover tomorrow’s Wonder with you! We hope you have a SUPER day! :)

  3. I think that the phrase ‘bring home the bacon’ does not have logic behind it. Theologists must not have been in their right mind when they gave reasons for why ‘bringing home the bacon’ is used to refer to earning money.
    Honestly, this Wonder did not hold my interest and I found it rather shoddily thought out.
    And to answer your question, no, not everybody loves bacon. I am a vegetarian and find the thought of eating chopped-up pig butt revolting.
    I think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about throw-out-the-window-to-see-fly jokes.

    • Hi there Tori, thank you for posting your comment about “bringing home the bacon” today! We value your thoughts on the topic and are sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy today’s Wonder. You’ve made a great point about vegetarian points of view– thank you for posting a friendly reminder for us!

      We Wonder if you have had a chance to check out another food-focused Wonder from the past:

      Wonder #600– What is a Vegan? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-is-a-vegan/

      Thanks for posting your comment today, Tori! We really appreciate it! :)

  4. Overall we really enjoyed reading this article. We found it interesting how the food was related to boxing. From Mrs. Larocca’s 4th Grade Class

    • Thank you to Mrs. Larocca’s students for such a WONDERful comment today! We are very happy to hear you enjoyed learning about the origin of the phrase “bringing home the bacon.” We Wonder what other new and cool facts we will learn together! We hope you all have a WONDERful day! :)

    • We think it would take a lot of skill and patience, but we’re pretty certain Mrs. Foster’s class could handle it! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

    • Thanks for your comment today, Cade768! We are glad to hear that you enjoyed the food portion of today’s Wonder– we hope you and your mom have a WONDERful time trying out the recipe! We appreciate your post and are glad that you are exploring with us today! :)

  5. You made our mouths water! We talked about how turkey bacon is better for you than pork and beef. Most of us agreed that a husband could not last a year without arguing with his wife!

    • Today’s Wonder made our tummies start to growl, too! We are so happy those AWESOME students in PLVRoom8 are WONDERing about healthier options for bacon lovers, too! Thanks for your great recommendations! We hope you have a WONDERful day using your imaginations! :)

  6. Hi Wonderopolis. I really liked this wonder today. I think that what they were making looked really good and I hope I can try it some time. :)

    • HOORAY, we are SUPER excited that you enjoyed today’s bacon Wonder, JulianaB123! The recipe in the video made us lick our lips here at Wonderopolis– we would love to hear how your own WONDERful version of the recipe turns out! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today– you ROCK! :)

  7. Hi wonderopolis,

    They looked really nice don’t you think so? Maybe I can ask my mum if I can have them for tea because they look really good and I mean real good.

    From Maddi

    • We think the recipe in today’s Wonder looked quite delicious, too! We hope your mum agrees and you can both try out the recipe together! It’s so much fun to cook and create in the kitchen! Thanks for Wondering with us today, Maddi! :)

  8. Hi Wonderopolis,

    That was really interesting I might try that when I get home from school. But I will need bacon, cheese, egg and all the ingredients.

    From Brody

    • Alright, we LOVE your enthusiasm for today’s Wonder, Brody! We think you could do a great job creating a recipe of your own in the kitchen! We wish you lots of luck and a tasty treat! :)

  9. I got it right! (kind of).

    My guess was about bacon and whoop! I got it right!

    *does happy dance*

    I think tomorrows is about butter!

    • WOHOO, you did a great job guessing today’s Wonder, Tiauna! We also really enjoyed your dance in honor of your correct guess! :)

      Great guess for tomorrow and thanks for WONDERing with us Tiauna– you are a ROCKSTAR! :)

  10. WOW!!! We learned so much….

    We learned about where the slang Bring Home The Bacon might have come from!

    We learned what bacon means and where it came from!

    We were reminded of how bacon could be used with almost everything!

    We WONDER…if there is anybody out there (besides vegetarians) who actually do not LIKE bacon!!!!

    • WOHOO! We are all smiles to hear that the students in Mrs. Brown’s classes (Period 3, 5 and 6) are doing an AWESOME job of WONDERing this week!! Isn’t it SUPER awesome to learn about the origin of a phrase or saying? There are lots of different stories usually attached to a phrase, but it’s interesting to find out how it has evolved over many years!

      We love that you’ve done some more research on bacon, too! Although we are big fans of bacon here at Wonderopolis, we know that many people don’t care for bacon– for a variety of reasons! Thanks for sharing your comments with us today- we hope you have a WONDERful rest of the day! :)

  11. Hi I’m Hannah and new to the site. My teacher has introduced me to this site and I also think this site is radical. Anyways I am only in grade 5 but I am really into facts and other stuff.

    • Hi there Hannah, we are so happy that you’ve found us here at Wonderopolis! We think it’s super cool that your teacher has introduced you to our site– we couldn’t be happier! We think students in grade 5 are STELLAR, especially when it comes to using their imaginations! Have a WONDERful day! :)

  12. Hi there my name is Kathryn and the bacon looks very nice, and you did a good on it so keep up the good work.

    From Kathryn :) :)

    • Hey there Bacon 101! We bet you’re great at trying new foods- but remember, everything is better in moderation! :) We are glad you’re WONDERing with us as we discover the origin of “bringing home the bacon”! Have a SUPER day! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your love of bacon and for visiting this Wonder of the Day®, Baconator! We think your name is a creative way to let everyone know how much you enjoy crispy, crunchy bacon! :-)

  13. I LOVE bacon. It is the best breakfast meal ever. I am getting hungry. I know the BACONATOR, he goes to my school and he is in my class.
    :] ;)

    • Hello, Kathy! Thank you for sharing your comment with us today! We think your description of bacon is GREAT! We’re also glad that you and the BACONATOR both visited this Wonder of the Day® today! :-)

  14. Wow! I had no idea that “bring home the bacon” meant to make a lot of money. I also didn’t know that the food was related to boxing! I would’ve never thought that! I wonder if people still use that phrase today…

    Regan

  15. I am in Mrs.Hess’ class! Bring home the bacon is an idiom of course! I love money and I think a nice friend will give me some money! I love how people take care by putting it in a safe so money doesn’t go out. Even some food will be good I think?

    I think tomorrow’s WONDER will be about a little boy throwing foods and drinks at the windows! See you soon!!!

    • Hi there, Kathy! Bringing home the bacon is such a cool phrase- we’re so glad you knew it was an idiom! We really enjoyed WONDERing about the origin of that idiom… perhaps you will bring home the bacon with an after-school job, or by babysitting for friends and neighbors in the future?! :)

      People keep their bacon, or money, safe by depositing it at banks. Usually it’s kept in a safe until it is needed again. Tomorrow’s Wonder is going to be a treat! Thanks for sharing your comment, Kathy! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How do you bring home the bacon?
  • Where did the phrase “bring home the bacon” come from?
  • Has bacon always referred to the food we know it as today?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

We don’t know about you, but this Wonder of the Day made us HUNGRY! Hungry for what? Bacon, of course? So are you ready to bring home the bacon?

Check the refrigerator first. There might be some bacon already in there. If not, find an adult and head to the grocery store. Find the bacon, pay for it and bring it home!

We like fried bacon with eggs. Sometimes we eat it for breakfast, but we sometimes make breakfast for dinner instead. How do you like your bacon?

If you want to try bacon in some new ways, check out these great recipes that are fun to make and even better to eat:

Still Wondering

Try this Illuminations’ Money Makers activity to learn about becoming a real successful business owner who can truly bring home the bacon!

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