National Pig Day: The Greatest Oinkers In Literature

Posted by Elizabeth Knauss

Ah March! The month that rings in Spring, gives us all a reason to be Irish, and celebrates the lives of pigs. Say whaaa? Yes, that’s right. March 1st is National Pig Day, a holiday instituted in 1972 by two sisters to honor the pig for its intellect and greatness. Probably a bad day to eat bacon.

To do my share in honoring the pig I have gathered a list of the greatest porkers in literature. I lift my glass to all of them, but also slightly apologize for giving you more information on pig characters than you probably need to know.

1. Wilbur: Oh, Wilbur. The beloved children’s book Charlotte’s Web introduces Wilbur, a rambunctious pig who befriends the clever spider Charlotte when he learns he’s on the menu for Thanksgiving dinner.

Interestingly, E.B. White wrote Death of a Pig years prior, based on a true event of how he couldn’t save his sick pig. Some believe Charlotte’s Web was a way for White to retroactively save that pig. I think E.B. would have been all smiles on Pig Day.

2. Piglet: I almost turned a blind eye to Piglet because he has received enough attention throughout the years, but then I realized it would give me an opportunity to talk about “Pooh Sticks.”

For the uninitiated, Pooh Sticks is a game created by the Hundred Acre Wood clan whereby each player drops a stick over the side of a bridge to see whose stick first appears on the other side. There is even a World Poohsticks Championship, which takes place annually on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, England. Nerd alert!

3. Gub-Gub: Who, you say, is Gub-Gub? Gub-Gub was one of the first animals that Dr. Doolittle spoke to in the 1932 children’s book Gub-Gub’s Book, An Encyclopedia of Food by Hugh Lofting. The book is told from Gub-Gub’s point of view. Gub-Gub is a great lover of food. He is also the first animal to experience Dr. Doolittle’s onset schizophrenia.

4. Napoleon and Snowball: These two young pigs were born from the mind of George Orwell in Animal Farm, published in 1945.

The Stalin-inspired Napoleon starts off as a regular ol’ piggie but soon becomes dictator of the farm animals. Snowball, on the other hand, is busy trying to stir up other farm animals in a massive riot against humans. I think Snowball masks would have been way cuter than Guy Fawkes’ masks during Occupy. No?

5. Transcendent Pig: Not to be confused with my little brother’s electro-pop band Translucent Pug, Transcendent Pig is a mystical character in Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series. Young Wizards is a sci-fi adventure focusing on two young wizards Nina and Kit. The series caught wind in the 80s, and the last book was published in 2010.

So, Transcendent Pig is omnipresent and knows the meaning of life. Nina and Kit ask him for life wisdom and he’s cool about it, like the kind of cool you feel when you’re omnipresent and a pig.

6. Positive Pig: If you grew up in the 80s, you know Positive Pig. And if you don’t know Positive Pig, maybe you know Goof-off Goose, Zany Zebra, or Jealous Jackal. These, and 23 other anthropomorphic animals, were part of the children’s book series Sweet Pickles published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Maybe you read them waiting for the dentist or in the backseat of your Mom’s blue Toyota, and maybe, just maybe you learned to love alliteration without even knowing it!

7. Pigoons: A pigoon is a pig with a body shaped like a ballon raised to grow extra organs for human transplantation according to Margaret Atwood in Oryx and Crake, the dystopian novel which explores genetic engineering and its ethical consequences.

Pigoons are almost as cool as rakunks, raccoons mixed with skunks, only they can’t help the human biological structure… they’re just cute.

8. The Ass and the Pig: Many business people use the Ass and the Pig, one of Aesop’s Fables, as a business model. Pig eats grain, pig gets sliced. Grain is offered to donkey, donkey says hells no! In this lesson, we learn it is not wise to not jump into risks without knowing the waters have been tested. In this situation, being an ass wins.

9. Babe: We all know loveable Babe. But before Babe was the talking farmhand who had heart-to-hearts with sassy ewes and Farmer Hoggett, he was the protagonist of Dick King-Smith’s The Sheep Pig.

It took ten years for producers and script writers to turn The Sheep Pig into Babe for the big screen. I think sometimes we don’t realize the toil that goes into book-inspired movies.

10. Olivia the Pig: Ian Falconer’s well dressed pig has traveled the world, won numerous awards, and has her own television series on Nick Jr. That’s one successful little piglet.

Elizabeth Knauss lives, reads, and writes in Philadelphia and is currently studying the business of publishing at Rosemont College. She is on the marketing team for Apiary Magazine where she gets to listen to and read beautiful poetry from many talented Philadelphians. She is glad to be able to blog about fun and interesting topics with Quirk.