When ye proffer the pigge, open the poke. ~ Fraser’s Magazine, 1858
Pig in a poke is an idiom as in ‘Don’t buy a pig in a poke’. If you don’t know, a poke is a sack or bag. While I’m unfamiliar with it, apparently the term poke is still in use a lot in Scotland and in certain parts of the US to describe just the sort of bag that would be useful for carrying a piglet.
Which begs the question, what sort of person would be inclined to carry a piglet around in their bag? This is how the story goes: In the Middle Ages when meat was scarce, folks would go to the market to buy a pig (piglet) in poke (bag), take it home unopened, only to discover they’d been tricked with a dog or cat instead (thus the expression: Don’t let the cat out of the bag – really). A pig that’s in a poke might turn out to be no pig at all.
I would guess most of you have had pigs in a blanket. They’re usually hot dogs or little sausages wrapped in croissant dough (unless you’re at Denny’s, where they’re wrapped in pancakes). Pigs in a blanket are kind of a church potluck hors d’oeuvres.
You might think a pig in a pig is an expectant sow, but that would be lots of pigs in a pig. At least in Texas, a singular pig in a pig is a sausage or hot dog wrapped in bacon, which is still a lot of pig. They do love their meat down here!
There are several million feral pigs in Texas and a very large, noisy herd of them lived right behind our RV at our second jungly gate. They proved to be a daily conversation starter.
Having them running around behind the RV was one thing. Taking the back roads to the post office in Smiley was a little like a scene from Deliverance.
I asked the guys why there were so many pigs on a poke (fence posts). They didn’t seem to know. In all fairness, many of them were from Louisiana and some from Mississippi, where it’s likely things other than pigs are placed on pokes.
Below you’ll find a few of their answers:
Don’t know, why do they put pigs on a poke?
I got this a lot. Everyone thought it was a riddle. 😀
Probably was just catfish. They grow ’em real big down here.
Well, shoot, it’s just a time honored Texas tradition: pure sun-dried hide tannin’!
Y’all aren’t from around here, are ya? That’s just plain ‘ole bored rednecks for ya.
I leave you with these inspirational words from John Heywood:
I will neuer bye the pyge in the poke: Thers many a foule pyge in a feyre cloke.
To that I would add my own rendition:
I will neuer go to Smiley bye the pyges on the poke: for fear the foule pyge ther maint give me a stroke.