When somebody “Brings Home The Bacon” they have achieved something notable, or won a prize or award. There are two possible explanations for this phrase. The first is an ancient game, popular at country fairs up and down the land. Men would chase a heavily greased pig around a ring and whoever finally caught and held on to the pig was given it as a prize to take home.
Such winners were said to have ‘taken home the bacon’.
The second, and far more likely, explanation originates from a tradition known as the Dunmow Flitch Trials. Established by a noblewoman called Juga in 1104, at Great Dunmow in Essex, the trial was a challenge to all married couples in England to live for a year and a day in complete harmony, without so much as a cross word between them. The prize offered was a flitch of bacon (a whole side) but in over 500 years there were only eight winners.
The tradition was re-established in 1855 and these days are held every four years, often with celebrities taking part. Claimants of the flitch are required to stand in front of a jury of 12 (six maidens and six bachelors of Great Dunmow) and prove their worthiness during a day-long family event. The winners ‘take home the bacon’. These days, it would seem, the noblewoman’s bacon is safe.