The Peppermint Pig

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Smashing a Peppermint Pig is an American Christmas tradition that goes back to the early 1880s. At that time the pig was a symbol of prosperity.  Sharing the pieces of the pig was supposed to bring good luck and health.

Saratoga Sweets, based in Clifton Park, NY, makes the Peppermint Pig using molds from the 1920s and 30s. The owner started out by making 60 pigs in 1988 for a local historical society.  By 2010, he was making over 120,000 each year.

Traditionally, after dinner a member of the household places the pig in a velveteen pouch and smashes it with a small metal mallet. It is passed around the table, so everyone gets a turn. Typically, each person recalls something good that happened over the last year as they take a piece.  “It turns into a really positive family tradition,” said Mike Fitzgerald, the owner of Saratoga Sweets.  “It provides closure to the year.”

The pig is made of smooth, hard peppermint.  Pigs come in three sizes:  Holly (3 ounces and 3 1/2-inches long), Noel (a half pound and 5 1/2 inches) and Clarence (1 pound and 6 inches).

Alas, by the time we finish the candy canes from the tree and stockings we are “peppermint-ed-out.”  But if they ever make chocolate pigs I’ll be the first in line!


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