A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 19, 2011
“Bring home the bacon”

"Bring home the bacon” means that a wage earner (such as a husband) supports a family by bringing home money, food (not always “bacon"), etc. Someone who “brings home the bacon” has achieved success.

The expression “bring home the bacon” is often said to have an origin in the Middle Ages, but there is no documented use of the term before 1906. Joe Gans (1874-1910) boxed Oscar “Battling” Nelson at Goldfield, Nevada, on September 3, 1906. Gans’s mother had sent a telegram before the fight:

“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 back the bacon.”

The telegram was often reported as saying “bring home the bacon” and the expression quickly became popular in the sports world.

A political saying involving “pork barrel” and “bring home the bacon” is “One man’s pork is another man’s bacon.”


The Free Dictionary
bring home the bacon
1. To earn a living, especially for a family.
2. To achieve desired results; have success.

The Free Dictionary
bring home the bacon
Fig. to earn a salary; to bring home money earned at a job. I’ve got to get to work if I’m going to bring home the bacon. Go out and get a job so you can bring home the bacon.

About.com: Home Cooking
Bacon History
Bringing home the bacon

By Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, About.com Guide
(...)
You are probably familiar with the phrase “bring home the bacon.” In the twelfth century, a church in the English town of Dunmow promised a side of bacon to any married man who could swear before the congregation and God that he had not quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. A husband who could bring home the bacon was held in high esteem by the community for his forebearance.

World Wide Words
BRINGING HOME THE BACON
(...)
That’s true today, though usually in a broader sense of supplying material support to one’s family or achieving success, but it’s hard to assert with a straight face that it was so back in 1500 or 1300. We can’t absolutely prove it wasn’t around then — proving a negative is always difficult — but its total absence from the historical record before 1906 rather gives a pointer to its being modern.

The first recorded user of the expression was Mrs Gans, mother of Joe. He was a famous boxer at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, the first native-born black American to win a world title. That was in 1900, when he was 26. Six years later he fought Oscar “Battling” Nelson in Goldfield, Nevada, now virtually a ghost town but then a booming community, the largest in the state. The match has been rated as the greatest lightweight championship bout ever contested, whose fame has endured enough that its centenary was recently marked in the area.

This is the way the crucial linguistic moment was reported in the Reno Evening Gazette for Monday, 3 September, 1906:

The following telegrams were read by Announcer Larry Sullivan. Gans received this from his mother: “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 back the bacon.”

Wikipedia: Joe Gans
Joe Gans (November 25, 1874 - August 10, 1910) was born Joseph Gant in Baltimore, Maryland. Gans was rated as the greatest lightweight boxer of all time by boxing historian and Ring Magazine founder, Nat Fleischer and was known as the “Old Master”. He fought from 1891 to 1909.

Gans started boxing professionally about 1891 in Baltimore. In 1900, Gans quit with an eye cut in the twelfth round of the world lightweight title bout against champion Frank Erne. In their rematch two years later, Gans knocked Erne out in one round to capture the lightweight title.

Gans reigned as champion from 1902 to 1908. In an important title defense he defeated the “Durable Dane”, Oscar “Battling” Nelson on a foul in 42 rounds on September 3, 1906 in Goldfield, Nevada by promoter Tex Rickard. When they fought again two years later Gans lost by a knockout. He died in August 1910, of tuberculosis and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Baltimore. His monument is maintained by the IBC (International Boxing Commission) and sits just to the left of the main entrance of the cemetery. Gans is generally considered to be one of the greatest boxers of all time, pound-for-pound.

“I was born in the city of Baltimore in the year 1874, and it might be well to state at this time that my right name is Joseph Gant, not Gans. However, when I became an object of newspaper publicity, some reporter made a mistake and my name appeared as Joe Gans, and as Joe Gans it remained ever since.”

3 September 1906, Reno (NV) Evening Gazette, Extra—Fight Edition, pg. 1, col. 6:
The following telegrams were read by Announcer Larry Sullivan. Gans received this from his mother:

“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 back the bacon.”

7 September 1906, Macon (GA) Telegraph, ‘The Prize Ring and Social Equality,” pg. 4, col. 1:
“The eyes of the world are on you, Joe; everybody says you ought to win. Peter Jackson will tell me the news; you bring home the bacon.”

30 October 1906, Oakland (CA) Tribune, “Oakland Favors Delaney’s Man” by Eddie Smith, pg. 11, col. 1:
RAY PECK: Kaufmann will bring home the bacon.

1 November 1906, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “Big Youngsters Ready for Mill,” pg. 15:
It is needless to say that Berger and Kauffman are each confident of “bringing home the bacon,” and, although Berger, on account of his cleverness, is installed favorite in the betting, it is conceded on all sides that Kauffman possesses a kick like a mule.

2 January 1907, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, “Before the Battle: Scenes and Incidents About the Roped Arena,” pg. 3, col. 1:
Much merriment was created by the announcer that Gans’ mother sent him a telegram requesting him to “Bring home the bacon.” Before he had a chance to read another telegram some one in the crowd yelled: “Does it say ‘Bring home the Matzos?’”

Chronicling America
18 February 1910, Seattle (WA) Star, pg. 2, col. 2:
ATTELL BROTHERS
BRING HOME BACON

OCLC WorldCat record
Dixie soldier boys; we’ll bring home the bacon on a tray.
Author: Lewis C King
Publisher: Richmond, Ind., ©1917.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Bring home the bacon to me
Author: J Harney; T Harney; F S Hall
Publisher: ©1922.
Edition/Format:  Musical score : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Bringin’ home the bacon
Author: Frank Bannister; Lew Colwell
Publisher: Melbourne : L.F. Collin, ©1923.
Edition/Format:  Musical score

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Wednesday, January 19, 2011 • Permalink