Thursday, March 01, 2012

Happy National Pig Day

Today is the day set aside to honor our porcine pals. We have a curiously mixed relationship with the pig. On the one hand, the pig is an incredibly intelligent and strong animal, yet to be compared to it is almost always a sign of condemnation. You will be called a pig if you eat too much or are unhealthfully heavy, if you are irresponsibly messy, or if you have chauvenist tendencies or treat women as objects. The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Black Sabbath all had pig songs which are condemnatory commentaries on contemporary life. The metaphorical pigs are bad people.

There are a few positive uses. "Piggies" is the term for the feet of young children, but here we have the chubby for kids = healthy, chubby for adults = unhealthy dichotomy at work. Harley riders use the "hog" as a mark of pride.

Strangely, our pig characters do not partake of the properties of the actual pig. The animated Porky Pig is a good guy, if not all that bright. The three little pigs are again not very bright (except for the one who builds the house of bricks) and timid.

But the pig is most often used to represent food. The southern grocery chain Piggly-Wiggly and the bar-b-que chain Famous Dave's both use the pig as a logo. Pork can be found now in everything including chocolate. The Vosges' candy company produces Mo's bacon bar which covers apple-smoked bacon bits in milk chocolate proving once again that you probably want to keep the stoners out of research and development. And then there is this bit from Jim Gaffigan:

And eat them we do -- or you do, I don't eat pork. Not a kosher thing, just never liked it. But it is an animal that is still eaten head to tail. Literally. I used to work for my uncle who had a pork stall at Lexington Market in Baltimore and in addition to ham and bacon, there were feet, ears, and brains. Had a customer one time ask me if I had any pig tails, So I said, "Sure, once upon a time there were three little pigs..." He didn't think it was funny either. Perhaps the scariest thing we sold was fatback and its cousin strickalean which is fatback light; it's for people who want fatback, but not all the extra fat. If selling that stuff doesn't make you a vegetarian, have I got a cardiologist for you.

So, happy pig day everyone.