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.
11 hours ago