Fact File: Who invented bacon? Invention: bacon *** Date of Invention: c.700 BC *** Name of Inventor: Unknown *** Historical Period: Ancient Roman (600 BC - 400AD) *** Category: Food and Drink *** Country of Origin: Ancient Rome *** The Invention of
Fact 1: Who invented bacon? The name of the inventor of bacon is unknown
but it is believed to have been invented in c.700 BC during the Ancient Roman
era of inventions (600 BC - 400AD).
Fact 2: Who invented bacon? The preservation of meat was critical to feed
the people of the Roman Empire. Fresh meat was only available to the wealthiest
Fact 3: Who invented bacon? The staple Roman diet required meat that had
been subject to preservation methods to avoid spoilage. Preservation techniques
ensured meat was available for long periods of time, especially in warm
climates, and for transporting meat over long distances. The best and largest
hams were imported to Rome from Gaul and Spain.
Fact 4: Who invented bacon? The Romans discovered that salting or curing
the meat was the best method of food preservation for conserving pork. Salting
was the most basic and ancient form of preserving meat but resulted in making
the meat dry and tough.
Fact 5: Who invented bacon? The Romans discovered that by adding the fine
white powder called saltpetre, aka potassium nitrate, to the preservation
process required less salt which made the pork less dry and softer. It also gave
the pork an attractive pink colour and transformed its flavour. Curing is
therefore similar to salting, but curing involves the addition of the saltpetre
Fact 6: Who invented bacon? The Romans then added smoking techniques to
the process as another natural preservative which gave their ham a
characteristic, smoky flavor. The Romans produced their ham from the shoulder or
leg of a hog that had been prepared by salting, curing and sometimes smoking.
Fact 7: Who invented bacon? The Roman politician and historian Cato the
Elder (234 BC – 149 BC) detailed various recipes used by the Romans to prepare
hams. After the salting and curing process, which lasted over a period of 20
days, the meat was cleaned, greased with oil and then smoked. The ham was then
greased with a mixture of olive oil and vinegar, two other items that were known
to preserve foods.
Fact 8: Who invented bacon? The Romans called their version of bacon "petaso"
which was described in other recipes as salted and cured pork boiled with
figs, then browned and seasoned with pepper sauce.
Fact 9: Who invented bacon? The civilisations that followed the Romans
through the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages and right up to the Industrial
Revolution were also dependent on preserved meats, such as bacon and ham.
Fact 10: Who invented bacon? The word 'bacon' originates
from the from the Middle English word 'bacoun', a word used to commonly describe
either smoked or salted pork. Other derivations of the word
are the Old Dutch word "baken" or the Germanic word 'bakkon' meaning
Fact 11: Who invented bacon? It was important for the Medieval people of
the Middle Ages, dominated by the feudal system, to preserve food on the manors
and castles in the summer to be eaten during during the winter months.
Fact 12: Who invented bacon? The Crusades saw the introduction of various
spices from the east and many of these new spices were introduced into Medieval
recipes for bacon to disguise the salty taste. Spices used included Pepper,
Cloves, Garlic, Mace, Caraway and Mustard, many of which were served with a
variety of sauces which also disguised the salt taste.
Fact 13: Who invented bacon? The decline of the feudal system led to more
people living in towns. Bacon was traditionally produced on local farms and
prepared in the winter to provide meat for the family and to market in the
Fact 14: Who invented bacon? In England a whole side of bacon is called a
'Flitch' meaning the "salted and cured side of a hog". The word still survives
due to an old tradition in a village situated in rural Essex, England in
which a 'Dunmow Flitch' is awarded to a couple who had been married in church
and remained 'unregreted' for a year and a day - hence the phrase "bringing home
Fact 15: Who invented bacon? Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 - 1400)
alludes to the Dunmow Flitch trials in "The Wife of Bath's Tale" in the famous
14th century Canterbury Tales. The Flitch 'Trials' still take place in Great Dunmow every four years.
Fact 16: Who invented bacon? The Elizabethan era heralded the Age of
Discovery and the colonization of America. In 1539 Hernando de Soto introduced
the first 13 pigs to America in Tampa Bay, Florida and pig production spread
rapidly through the new colonies.
Fact 17: Who invented bacon? In Britain a thin slice of bacon became known as
a 'rasher' from a Middle English word meaning "rashly or hastily cooked". In
America an individual slice of bacon was called a 'slice' or a 'strip' by the
colonists and settlers.
Fact 18: Who invented bacon? The Industrial Revolution witnessed the
birth of new machinery and agricultural techniques that increased the supply of
all meats including pork and bacon. In the 1800's the process of canning was
invented by Nicolas Appert (1749 - 1841) that provided an additional form of
preservation, but bacon was still the most popular of meats.
Fact 19: Who invented bacon? In 1790 John Harris founded the first
commercial bacon making company: in Wiltshire, England. By the mid 1800s the
first pigs were commercially slaughtered in Cincinnati, which became known as "Porkopolis"
and commercial cold storage facilities for pork were being built at harbors in
both America and Europe. Sugar was introduced to curing process by some
manufacturers as another form of preservative to reduce the salty taste of the
Fact 20: Who invented
bacon? During the 1800's a wet curing method was invented in Denmark using a
combination of stitch pumping and curing the meat in curing tanks with a cover
brine. The wet-curing process was less labour-intensive than the traditional
dry-curing process of rubbing salt, spices and sugar into the bacon. Danish
bacon began to be exported the Britain due to the growth in the UK population
following the Industrial Revolution and remains popular to the modern day.
Fact 21: Who invented bacon? The term
'Canadian Bacon' is a misnomer. The name dates to the 1800's and refers a time
when there was a shortage of pork in Britain so the British imported pork from
Canada. The meat was rolled in ground, yellow, split peas to help to preserve
it, rather than smoking the bacon as was the British custom. In Canada the back cut is taken from the lean, boneless, pork loin.
It is called "Peameal bacon" because the pork loin is cured by the process of
pickling and rolled in a fine golden cornmeal.
Fact 22: Who invented bacon? German immigrant, Oscar F. Mayer
(1859–1955) introduced pre-sliced, pre-packaged bacon to the United States in
Fact 23: Who invented bacon? The American manufacturing process of bacon
led to various varieties of flavored bacons being introduced to the American
market. Methods of smoking bacon with hickory, mesquite and apple wood produced
different, distinctive tastes and flavourings such as chili pepper, molasses,
maple, brown sugar and honey added to the variety of flavors.