You have probably already heard the phrase to “go the whole hog”, or maybe it’s a phrase you use yourself. But have you ever sat down to consider where this came from, or what it really means. There is a good chance it may surprise you.
We believe that when you are hosting a hog roast, going the whole hog is more important than ever, because it even has hog in the name. After we discuss what going the whole hog means and where it originated from, we will tell you exactly how to go the whole hog at your very own hog roast.
Going the whole hog: what does it mean?
The definition of going the whole hog, is pretty simple. It means to do something as completely as possible. Therefore you can hold nothing back whatsoever, and have to do the said task with all your might.
Etymology of going the whole hog.
The word hog itself, was a 14th century term for a young livestock animal, and used for a range of animals from sheep to horses. It wasn’t until the late 15th Century that Hog began to be used to refer to the wild boar, likely through the secondary meaning of the word: “gluttonous”.
There are several theories as to how the term “go the whole hog” came about. It is thought to have arisen as a farming term during the rearing of livestock and butchery. It is likely that in a similar fashion to “from snout to tail”, going the whole hog was referring to ensuring no part of the animal was wasted. This traditionally meant the skin would be tanned for leather, sweetbreads harvested, and commonly cast off pieces such as hooves, pickled or used as food for other domestic pets such as dogs. Buying the whole hog in this century would often come at a large discount and so was actively encouraged if you could afford the expense.
The term was first recorded in written literature in Cowper’s poem “The love of the world reproved” (1779). The poem teased Muslims about the suggested ambiguity over their prohibition on eating pork. It gives a story of Muslims whom are forbidden by faith from eating a certain unnamed part of the pig, and are attempting to find out which it is, but in the process end up eating the whole thing.
By 1830 the phrase had become popular across America being used in newspapers, and political campaigns. Only at this point did it migrate across to Britain where the phrase was readily adopted. Interestingly the idiom fell out of fashion in America and it was Britain that maintained it to the current day.
How you can make sure you go the whole hog for your hog roast
This is all very interesting, but what does this mean for your hog roast? There are two main ways that you can go the whole hog during your hog roast, and clearly by its own definition that means if you want to go the whole hog, you will have to do both.
Don’t waste any of your precious hog
The most traditional use of the word, and a valuable principle, is to make sure you actually use the entire hog. After all, having the whole pig is part of what makes a hog roast so special.
Remember that there are ways to prepare all of the pig as a tasty treat, not just the main joints which are commonly used. The ears and hooves can also be roasted, and enjoyed as a tasty treat.
The key here is communication, talk to your butcher or hog roast provider and they will be full of ideas to turn those scraps into delicacies, so you can make the most of your hog and show off your resourcefulness. At the very least make sure that you get some good fresh crispy crackling.
Only buy the best
Going the whole hog will mean that you cannot spare any expense. Go full out, and make sure you have a quality free range pig; this will not only add that extra little flavour explosion, but you can appreciate the fact the pig has enjoyed a good quality of life.
Whatever you do make sure you have enough pig to go around. There is nothing worse than going to a hog roast only to find they have run out of hog and you have a stuffing and apple sauce roll. If you are going the whole hog, make sure there is enough for your guests to have a generous helping. You can use our hog roast guide for reference, or talk to the hog roast supplier, but remember you can always have more than one hog at your event.
The hog roast is going to be the star of the show, but that doesn’t mean you can skimp on the side dishes. Whether or not your hog roast suppliers are also preparing the dishes or not make sure you communicate your plans for the meal, so the hog is well seasoned to match.
Set up decorations to compliment your hog roast. Don’t just stop at a gazebo, decide on a theme and decorate to match. One of our favourites is a medieval theme. Hire plates, cutlery and banners to match the theme, because the devil is in the detail. A well decorated themed hog roast will be able to teleport your guests through time to have a truly memorable evening.
Don’t stop here, be as creative as possible with your event and go the whole hog. You won’t regret it.