Bacon, Francis, 1561-1626, English philosopher, essayist, and statesman, b. London, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and at Gray's Inn. He was the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord keeper to Queen Elizabeth I. Francis Bacon was a member of Parliament in 1584 and his opposition to Elizabeth's tax program retarded his political advancement; only the efforts of the earl of Essex led Elizabeth to accept him as an unofficial member of her Learned Council. At Essex's trial in 1601, Bacon, putting duty to the state above friendship, assumed an active part in the prosecution—a course for which many have condemned him. With the succession of James I, Bacon's fortunes improved. He was knighted in 1603, became attorney general in 1613, lord keeper in 1617, and lord chancellor in 1618; he was created Baron Verulam in 1618 and Viscount St. Albans in 1621. In 1621, accused of accepting bribes as lord chancellor, he pleaded guilty and was fined £40,000, banished from the court, disqualified from holding office, and sentenced to the Tower of London. The banishment, fine, and imprisonment were remitted. Nevertheless, his career as a public servant was ended. He spent the rest of his life writing in retirement.

Bacon belongs to both the worlds of philosophy and literature. He projected a large philosophical work, the Instauratio Magna, but completed only two parts, The Advancement of Learning (1605), later expanded in Latin as De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623), and the Novum Organum (1620). Bacon's contribution to philosophy was his application of the inductive method of modern science. He urged full investigation in all cases, avoiding theories based on insufficient data. However, he has been widely censured for being too mechanical, failing to carry his investigations to their logical ends, and not staying abreast of the scientific knowledge of his own day. In the 19th cent., Macaulay initiated a movement to restore Bacon's prestige as a scientist. Today his contributions are regarded with considerable respect. In The New Atlantis (1627) he describes a scientific utopia that found partial realization with the organization of the Royal Society in 1660. Noted for their style and their striking observations about life, his largely aphoristic Essays (1597-1625) are his best-known writings.

See his works (14 vol., 1857-74, repr. 1968); biography by L. Jardine and A. Stewart (1999); studies by J. Weinberger (1985) and P. Urbach (1987); D. W. Davies and E. S. Wrigley, ed., Concordance to the Essays of Francis Bacon (1973).

Bacon, Francis, 1910-92, English painter, b. Dublin. A self-taught artist, Bacon rejected abstraction in painting to explore a repertoire of strange, fractured, and often bizarre figurative images, many replete with homosexual, sadomasochistic, and fetishistic undertones. He became the center of a storm of controversy with his breakthrough painting Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944; Tate Gall., London), which portrayed carcasslike figures on crosses. He painted a series of variations on figural themes, e.g., Van Gogh Goes to Work, Velázquez's Innocent X. Often large in scale, Bacon's works, which frequently use photographs or printed materials as sources for their imagery, focus on shockingly grotesque and brutally satiric themes. From the 1950s—the era of his famously grim screaming popes—onward his images became increasingly distorted and abstract, sometimes merging human and animal forms.

See biographies by J. Russell (1979), A. Sinclair (1993), and M. Peppiatt (rev. ed. 2009); M. Peppiatt, Francis Bacon: Studies for a Portrait: Essays and Interviews (2008); Francis Bacon: A Retrospective (1999); D. Sylvester, Interviews with Francis Bacon (1975, repr. 1988), Francis Bacon: In Conversation with Michel Archimbaud (1993); studies by E. van Alphen (1993), W. Schmied (1996, tr. 2006), D. Sylvester (2000), G. Deleuze (2004), M. Harrison (2005), M. Peppiatt (2006), and R. Chiappini (2008); exhibition catalogs from Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. (1989) and Tate Museum, London, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, ed. by M. Gale and C. Stephens (2008).

Bacon, Henry, 1866-1924, American architect, b. Watseka, Ill. He began his professional career with the firm of McKim, Mead, and White, but after 1903 he practiced independently. Among the important structures designed by him are the Lincoln Memorial at Washington, D.C. (completed 1917), and the World War Memorial at Yale Univ.
Bacon, Leonard, 1802-81, American Congregational minister, b. Detroit, Mich. He served for 41 years as pastor of the First Church of New Haven, one of the leading Congregational churches in the country. Bacon was a noted antislavery leader, although not an abolitionist. His Slavery Discussed in Occasional Essays (1846) made a great impression upon Lincoln. He was a founder and editor of the Independent and author of the widely known Pilgrim Hymn (1833) and The Genesis of the New England Churches (1874).
Bacon, Nathaniel, 1647-76, leader of Bacon's Rebellion in colonial Virginia. An aristocrat (he was kin to Francis Bacon, had been educated at Cambridge and Gray's Inn, and was a member of the governor's council), Bacon nevertheless became the champion of the discontented frontiersmen after only two years' residence in the colony. When he died suddenly from the effects of malaria, the revolt collapsed.
Bacon, Sir Nicholas, 1509-79, English jurist. Called to the bar in 1533, he was made attorney of the court of wards and liveries in 1546 and, although a staunch Protestant, held this office through the reign of Mary I. On the accession (1558) of Elizabeth I, he was appointed lord keeper of the privy seal, possibly through the influence of William Cecil, later Lord Burghley (whose wife's sister Bacon married). In 1559 he was authorized to exercise the jurisdiction of the lord chancellor. He regarded Mary Queen of Scots as a menace to English peace and opposed any measure of compromise with her. He was the father of Francis Bacon.
Bacon, Peggy, 1895-1987, American illustrator, caricaturist, and etcher, b. Ridgefield, Conn. She illustrated more than 60 books including works by George Ade, Carl Sandburg, and Louis Untermeyer, as well as her own poems and her stories for children. Her shrewd and caustic observations have found expression in her writings and in her graphic work. Socialist Meeting (Metropolitan Mus.) is characteristic. Among her published works are Off with Their Heads (1934); Cat-Calls (1935), a volume of light verse; and, for children, The Ghost of Opalina (1967) and Magic Touch (1968). Bacon was married (1920-40) to the painter Alexander Brook.
Bacon, Robert, 1860-1919, American banker and government official, b. Jamaica Plain, Mass. He embarked upon a career in business and in 1894 accepted a partnership with J. P. Morgan and Company. He participated in the formation (1901) of the U.S. Steel Corp. and the Northern Securities Company. Bacon later served (1905-9) as Assistant Secretary of State under President Theodore Roosevelt, and was briefly (1909) Secretary of State. He was (1909-12) also ambassador to France. An outspoken proponent of U.S. entry into World War I, he served (1917-19) in the U.S. army. He wrote For Better Relations with Our Latin American Neighbors (1915).

See biography by J. B. Scott (1923).

Bacon, Roger, c.1214-1294?, English scholastic philosopher and scientist, a Franciscan. He studied at Oxford as well as at the Univ. of Paris and became one of the most celebrated and zealous teachers at Oxford. Bacon was learned in Hebrew and in Greek and stressed the value of knowing the original languages in the study of Aristotle and of the Bible. He may also have known Arabic; his own philosophy drew upon Arab Aristotelianism as well as upon St. Augustine. He had an interest far in advance of his times in natural science, in controlled experiments, and in the accurate observation of phenomena. "It is the intention of philosophy," he said, "to work out the natures and properties of things." He declared that mathematics was the gateway to science, and experience, or verification, the only basis of certainty. This belief in experience as a guide to the outer world was, however, not divorced from theology; wisdom and faith were to him one. His writings were numerous. Three of his most important works were written for Pope Clement IV in one year (1267-68)—the Opus majus (tr. 1928), the Opus minor, and the Opus tertium. He was deeply interested in alchemy, an interest that may account for his being credited by his contemporaries with great learning in magical practices. He was long credited with the invention of gunpowder (because of a formula for gunpowder that appeared in a work attributed to him). A manuscript in cipher, discovered in the 20th cent. and attributed to him, would make Bacon the first man to have observed spiral nebulae through a telescope and to have examined cells through a microscope; but considerable doubt has been cast on the original date and the authenticity of the manuscript. Earlier editions of his major works were supplemented by an edition of his hitherto unedited works in various fascicles by Robert Steele and others (1909-35).

See A. G. Little, ed., Roger Bacon Essays (1914, repr. 1972); biography by F. Winthrop Woodruff (1938); studies by T. Crowley (1950) and S. C. Easton (1952, repr. 1971).

bacon, flesh of hogs—especially from the sides, belly, or back—that has been preserved by being salted or pickled and then dried with or without wood smoke. Traditionally, the process consisted of soaking the pork in brine or rubbing it in a salt mixture by hand, then smoking the sides in smoke from an open chimney. It sometimes took three or four months. Bacon is still home cured in some rural communities, but the bulk of its manufacture is carried on in large industrial meatpacking plants equipped to slaughter, dress, cure, smoke, and sell on a large scale. Bacon refers to different cuts in different countries. In the United States it usually means the side between the fifth rib and the hipbone. In Europe, the word bacon generally refers to one half of a fattened pig. Bacon has one of the highest fat contents of any cut of meat.

Bacon is a cut of meat taken from the sides, belly, or back of a pig that has been cured, smoked, or both. Meat from other animals, such as beef, lamb, chicken, whale, goat or turkey, may also be cut, cured, or otherwise prepared to resemble bacon. Bacon may be eaten fried, baked, or grilled, or used as a minor ingredient to flavor dishes. The word is derived from the Old High German bacho, meaning "back", "ham", or "bacon".

The USDA defines bacon as "the cured belly of a swine carcass"; other cuts and characteristics must be separately qualified (e.g., "smoked pork loin bacon"). "USDA Certified" bacon means that it has been treated for trichinella.

In continental Europe, bacon is used primarily in cubes (lardons) as a cooking ingredient, valued both as a source of fat and for its flavour. In Italy, bacon is called pancetta and usually cooked in small cubes or served uncooked and thinly sliced as part of an antipasto. Bacon is also used for barding and larding roasts, especially game birds. Many people prefer to have bacon smoked using various types of woods or turf. This process can take up to ten hours depending on the intensity of the flavour desired.

In the English-speaking world

A side of unsliced bacon is a flitch, while an individual slice of bacon is a rasher (United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia and New Zealand) or simply a slice or strip (North America). Slices of bacon are also known as collops. Traditionally, the skin is left on the cut and is known as bacon rind, but rindless bacon is also common. In the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, bacon comes in a wide variety of cuts and flavours. In the United States, ordinary bacon is made only from the pork belly, yielding what is known in Britain as "streaky bacon", or "streaky rashers". In Britain, bacon made from the meat on the back of the pig is referred to as back bacon or back rashers. It usually includes a streaky bit and a lean ovoid bit, and is part of traditional full breakfast commonly eaten in Britain and Ireland. In the United States, back bacon is called Canadian-style bacon or Canadian bacon, but this term refers usually to the lean ovoid portion. In Canada, it is called peameal bacon, whereas bacon is used generally to refer to strip bacon, which is more common to the Canadian diet.

In Asia

In Korea, one of the most popular cooked meats is grilled unsmoked pork belly called samgyeopsal (삼겹살), literally "three layered meat". Like most traditional meat dishes in Korea, it is grilled at the table, cut into small pieces with scissors when partly or wholly cooked, and eaten communally. Koreans prize samgyeopsal meat with a high fat content, and pay a premium for meat that is especially fatty.

Bacon used as a topping

In the U.S. and Europe, bacon is often used as a condiment or topping on other foods. Streaky bacon is more commonly used as a topping in the U.S., on items such as pizza, salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, baked potatoes, hot dogs, and soups. Back bacon is used less frequently in the United States, but can sometimes be found on pizza, salads and omelets. Bacon bits are chopped pieces of pre-cooked bacon intended to be sprinkled over foods, particularly salads. Imitation "bacon bits" made of texturized vegetable protein flavoured to resemble authentic bacon bits are also available.

Health concerns

A 2007 study by Columbia University suggests a link between eating cured meats (such as bacon) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The preservative sodium nitrite is the probable cause.


Select nutritional data from types of bacon in the USDA National Nutrient Database:
Streaky bacon,
Streaky bacon,
Canadian style
bacon, cooked
Hormel Canadian
Style Bacon
Amount 1 slice     1 slice     2 slices     1 serving    
Total Weight (g) 29     8     47     56    
  Water (g) 3.57 (12%)     0.99 (12%)     29 (62%)     40.85 (73%)    
Calories 157     43     87     68    
Total Fat (g) 12.12     3.34     3.97     9.45    
  Saturated Fat (g) 3.984     1.099     1.335     1.025    
Cholesterol (mg) 32     9     27     27    
Sodium (mg) 670     185     727     569    
Protein (g) 10.74     2.96     11.39     9.45    


Bacon grease, also known as bacon drippings, is the grease created by cooking bacon. When bacon is cooked, its fat naturally melts, releasing a highly flavorful grease. Bacon grease is traditionally saved in southern U.S. cuisine and used as an all-purpose flavoring for everything from gravy to cornbread to salad dressing.

One teaspoon of bacon grease has . It is composed almost completely of fat, with very little additional nutritional value. Bacon fat is roughly 40% saturated. Despite the health consequences of excessive bacon grease consumption, it remains popular in the cuisine of the American South.

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