Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Whimsical Wednesday: Pass the Pigs

Reflecting on yesterday’s post about Cracker Barrel and the misleading nature of nostalgia, I stumbled upon an old game this evening – a game that I’d rescued from my mother’s house less than a year before Hurricane Katrina slurped all the rest of our board games and jigsaw puzzles under eight feet of water. It’s called Pass the Pigs – and if you’ve never heard of it, you’re in for a treat. It was, in fact, one of my favorite games as a kid, and my mother, an avid swine lover, was equally fond of Pass the Pigs.

The particular version that I own is, big surprise, intended for travelers. Contained within a sleek black case (embossed with two pig shapes at the top) are two small plastic pigs, two golf-style pencils, and a tiny score pad. The object of the game is simple: to be the first player to reach 100 points, which you earn by rolling the two pigs simultaneously (like dice) on a smooth surface. How the pigs land is what determines your score – the more difficult the position, the higher the score.

This is where the game gets really hilarious. If the pigs land on opposite sides (with one pig lying on its right side, and the other lying on its left side), this is called a Pig Out – you get zero points and lose your turn. Common positions include the Sider (one point for both pigs lying on the same side), the Trotter (five points if a pig lands on all four feet, twenty points if both pigs land that way), and the Razorback (five points if a pig lands on its back, twenty points if both pigs land that way).

The toughest positions are the Snouter (ten points if a pig lands on its snout and two front feet, forty points if both pigs land that way) and the Leaning Jowler (fifteen points if a pig lands on an ear, its snout, and a front foot, sixty points if both pigs land that way). Of course, most of the time, the pigs will land in different positions, which is called a Mixed Combo. Pray to the Piggy God that you don’t roll an Oinker – where the pigs are touching when they land – a position that will end your turn and zap all of your accumulated points. The worst roll that can happen, though, is a Piggyback – whereby one pig ends up standing on top of the other one – “an unnatural pig position,” according to the instructions, resulting in an instant boot from the game.

Not comical enough for you? Well, in Pass the Pigs, the scorekeeper is called the swineherd and the players can opt for another version of the game, Hog Call – whereby players must predict the position in which the pigs will land. Take my word for it – this game is a family-friendly laugh riot, and even though I miss all the games, puzzles, stuffed animals, trophies, photographs, and other childhood memorabilia that I lost in Katrina, I thank my lucky stars that smile-inducing things like Pass the Pigs were spared from Mother Nature’s wrath. 'Cause, unlike Cracker Barrel, this game is still just as awesome as ever - I even plan to challenge my husband to a round tomorrow night. I'll let you know which pig-tosser prevails.

19 comments:

Jen Levin said...

I used to have the same game! I wonder if I searched at my parent's house if I could find it. I'm thinking we should have a Pass the Pigs competition in New Orleans in November!

Laura Martone said...

OMG, that's hilarious, Jen! I'll totally bring the pigs with me when we head south in six weeks. I'd love to play with a fellow pig-tosser.

Weronika said...

We played this game in Statistics class this past school year -- what is the probabibility of the pig landing in each of the respective positions? -- and then played a competition. :) I lost, of course, considering it was my first time ever seeing the game.

Have fun with that competition -- you should go ahead and do it and then post pictures! :)

Laura Martone said...

That's hilarious - I didn't know that Pass the Pigs was so widespread. I will happily post pictures of the competition... that'll be so much fun!

Anonymous said...

I played Pass the Pigs for most of my teens, as a great travel game, or among friends. We even invented a new position, called "The Sider", which is similar to a razorback, but the pig is slightly tipped on its side, without falling over. Very rare, so we gave it 20 pts, or 80 pts if you got a double.

Ink said...

Okay, I totally have to find that game. Who doesn't want to roll pigs?

jbchicoine said...

I've never seen the game, but I love their complete anatomy (at least what I can see of it!)

Laura Martone said...

Anon - Oh, I'm so glad that Pass the Pigs is more widespread than I thought. That's funny that you invented a new position, although there already is a "Sider," so perhaps it could have been called a "Leaner"... but I get the idea. :-) How amusing! Thanks for sharing your experience.

Ink - That's what I say. You can't possibly be grumpy or stressed out while rolling pigs! I sure hope you can find it in Canada.

Laura Martone said...

Bridget - Maybe I should take the Pigs on the road... I could stop by Standish to play a round with you... then visit Ink in Windsor. I'd be more than happy to spread the oinker love!

Stephanie Faris said...

I've never heard of that. It's hilarious...and it looks like fun!

Steph Damore said...

Laura - Stop on down in Saginaw too!

jbchicoine said...

Laura, sounds like you have a circuitous route on your hands!

Laura Martone said...

Steph F. - It IS fun! I'm starting to think we should do a big writer Pigathon just to spread the oinky goodness.

Steph D. - You got it! Saginaw, here I come!

Laura Martone said...

No doubt, B! This could be exciting - just the excuse I needed to meet my fellow writers in person. :-)

Laura Martone said...

Just a quick follow-up to this post:

Yesterday, I finally convinced Dan to play a few rounds of Pass the Pigs. We had loads of fun, but, alas, he beat the pork out of me! Guess we know which pig-tosser prevailed. :-(

Becky said...

Hey there! Back from TX and "catching up". LOVE "Confederacy of Dunces". I don't think a movie could ever do it justice! Enjoyed the food pictures from N.O., and know just how precious items are from our past that escaped Katrina! Hope to meet up with you soon!

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Becky! Hope you and your family enjoyed the journey down and back. Glad you had a chance to read a few of my posts... figured you would appreciate the NOLA food and Katrina-spared piggies. Hope we'll have a chance to hang out soon!

TheWordWire said...

I'm so sorry you lost all your childhood belongings under such terrible circumstances -- Hope it's not too cliche to say this, but... thankfully you get to keep the memories.

This story made me fall over into a leaning jowler because it's such a funny coincidence. I haven't seen Pass the Pigs in YEARS, but just happen to have referenced it today. Used to play it all the time with my friend visiting this weekend.

Laura Martone said...

Howdy, WW! Thanks for the sympathy - I appreciate it. But, you're right, at least the memories are still relatively intact. And my relatives are all okay.

As for the piggies and your visiting pal, that IS a funny coincidence. I'm just floored by the number of folks who know about Pass the Pigs... course, I'm not surprised by all the fond memories. It's a pretty amusing game!