Origins: Oddly enough the origin of this popular phrase is closer to the phrase itself than the modern definition of it. In fifteenth century England, bacon was literally awarded to a happily married couple through a competition with other couples. Records have shown that the church of Donmow, in Essex County, England, that bacon was the prize between couples competing over which couple, after a year of marriage, has lived in greater harmony and fidelity. 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 is known about this mouth-watering contest. 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 be rewarded the bacon. 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.