Getty Images

Archaeology shows humanity's love for bacon runs deep.

Elisabeth Sherman
August 21, 2017

You may want to rethink your belief that bacon has only become trendy in the past decade: A researcher in Vienna is now contending that Austrians were mass producing the delicious breakfast meat at least 3,000 years ago. 

Hans Reschreiter of Vienna's Museum of Natural History says that Austrians were among the first Europeans to make bacon on an “industrial scale,” according to NBC Washington. He’s been studying DNA traces from around 6,000 pig bones in ancient slaughterhouses in the town of Hallstatt, and found that many of the bones dug up there are more than 3,000 years old. That could mean that the prehistoric people of Austria knew bacon would someday become big news, even back then. 

Reschreiter was able to determine that the pigs were slaughtered and their meat cured in wooden barrels before being hung up to dry in caves, perhaps an early precursor to the more mechanized process you might see at a slaughterhouse today.  

Yes, bacon seems especially trendy right now: There’s a bacon camp you can attend to learn about all things pork. Bacon is making its way into your dessert, in the form of doughnuts and cinnamon rolls. But millennials are hardly the first people to discover to pleasure of biting into a juicy slice of bacon (though their obsession may be driving up the price of pork belly)—as the writer Josh Ozersky put it for Food & Wine, “[bacon is] an explosion that will only stop when its fuel—our appetite for it—runs out. Which is to say, never.”

If you want to make the like the Austrians, there are plenty of ways to cure your own bacon—with brown sugar, black pepper, and salt, like it’s done at Vanderose Farms—or if you’re feeling like expanding bacon’s potential off the breakfast plate, these recipes give you seven ideas on how to incorporate salty, cured pork belly into any meal.