Monday, November 10, 2008
The Peppermint Pig is so cool. I bought one years ago, for gifts and for myself for Christmas. I'd found it at a little gift shop and was intriguiged with its history. What is the Peppermint Pig, you ask?
The Peppermint Pig is a piece of peppermint candy, in the shape of a pig. It was created by a confectioner in Saratoga, NY, in the late 1880s, when people were more prosperous and could spend money on such cute little frivolities.
Pigs were a sign of wealth for American families. Other animals (like cows, chickens) were raised for food but served other purposes on the farm (plowing, eating grass and bugs, eggs, etc). The pig's only purpose was for food. Families that could afford a pig usually had more money that their swine-less neighbors. So the pig became a symbol of prosperity and goodwill.
The Peppermint Pig tradition caught on quickly in Upstate NY. It became a Christmas tradition, where a little pig would be eaten after the Christmas meal. The pig was swacked with a small hammer and the pieces were eaten by the family together.
Today, only one confectioner makes the peppermint pig, see Saratoga Sweets for more about the pig and how to purchase the candy.
It makes a really "sweet" gift, I think. The pig comes with a little hammer and a small booklet about the tradition behind the Peppermint Pig. It's cute. By the way, this is candy made with pure sugar, not corn syrup. The sugar is necessary, otherwise the pig would not shatter and would look gummy and pockmarked like it had acne.
You can read more about the Peppermint Pig and the manufacture of it here. It's pretty neat!