Origins: In fifteenth century England, bacon was literally awarded to a happily married couple through a competition with other couples. Records show that the church of Donmow (in Essex County, England) had a competition between newlyweds to see which couple, after a year of marriage, lived in greater harmony and fidelity. The winning couple would be awarded bacon. The earliest date recorded for this custom was 1445, but it had been done for at least two hundred years prior. The rules for proving the couples’ harmony and fidelity in these earlier competitions are not known, but by the sixteenth century more information emerged. Each couple would face questions by a jury consisting of six bachelors and six maidens. The jury would then choose who they believed gave the best answers and that couple would take home the bacon prize. The competition continued on and off through the late nineteenth century.
Charles Panati, Panati’s Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, New York: Harper, 1989, 93.