Pigs Playing Porker–And Other Signs of the BBQ Times
by Allan Baker
Today's opus deals with one of my favorite subjects: signs outside of BBQ establishments that are hilarious and/or outrageous. You've surely been out driving, seen a hilarious sign of some sort, and said, "I wish I had a picture of that!" Well, your wish is my command. All it took was 13 states, 36 days, 2700 miles, a carburetor, rear brakes, and one pending lawsuit! Where shall we start? First off, pigs get no respect. Their image is sullied by proprietors who portray them as malevolent, sadistic, and sometimes even part-fish.
Well, if this doesn't have you streaking out the door for dinner, I don't know what will! Half-pig, half-fish? What do they call that entree? And what's even more disturbing is, how did they create it? (Reggie's, Milton, Florida)
A weird, haunting, almost Dali-esque sign--a hungry pig (the kerchief, knife and fork sort of give it away) with an exceptionally large nose.
(Lannie’s, Selma, Alabama)
This particular pig apparently mated with an elephant-- note the ear --and strangely enough, only seems to have one! And yes, give him some "style points" for the overalls and railroad hat.
(Rodgers, Meridian, Mississippi)
First off, let's determine just what "The Taste of the South" is exactly. Their idea could be decidedly different from yours and mine. I would also like to draw your attention to the "progression of life" shots: of course, the standard pig wearing green hat and smiling; then on to the pig's ribs being grilled over a smoldering fire; and finally, our congenial and accommodating chef, signaling 'OK'. Oh sure, OK for him!! What about the pig?
(Brad’s, Oxford, Alabama)
This is a common logo throughout the land: a pig in full garb (chef's hat, kerchief and apron), grinning from floppy ear to floppy ear, straddling a fire (always a pleasant sight)! What, is he preparing to cook himself? And, totally unrelated, notice the slant of the sign? That was my doing (remember I said in the intro "a pending lawsuit"?).
(The Bar-B-Q Place, Baldwin, Florida)
The undisputed king of the BBQ marquees. First off, the artwork is subtle, deeply rooted in metaphor, and extremely cheesy. The theme is savage, illicit, yet light-hearted, and fun. The characters: a farmer, with way-too-large-a-nose, and a gaping mouth has the blunt end of the cleaver pointed towards the pig! Does he plan to first bludgeon the pig, then hack him to pieces? On the other side, why is this pig smiling? Is he not aware of what's about to transpire? He's holding something--possibly a weapon of his own.
(Tommy’s, Irving, Texas)
This is one out of the Eugene O'Neill school of BBQ advertising. Dark, morose, even a bit surreal--but why is the pig grey? Have you ever seen a grey pig? Ever seen one squatting like a baseball catcher? There’s a rather somber, thematic scenario going on here--not only is the pig going to be hacked to death very shortly, but he's being made to wait for the experience, behind bars!!
Julius Ribcage, Wichita, Kansas)
Could this be any more grisly? A skeleton, wearing doctors' clothes, keeping the pig alive with an I.V. while sharpening his cleaver, as the pig looks on--one could safely say--with a bit of apprehension! I looked at the menu...there's your standard fare-- chicken, ribs, chicken and ribs, and of course pork--but prepared in so many different ways, that it's not just a meal, but 'fun' for the whole family. Sandwiches, pulled pork, chopped pork, and the Dr. Bones "claim-to-fame," tortured pork!!
Yet another classic: "Let's torture the pig, as well as slice him up and eat him"! Why such harsh words? Look at the pig, stretched out over the fire...he's sweating! Which would suggest...he's still alive! Another big surprise the pig does not look happy!
(Rose’s, just outside Hattiesburg, Mississippi)
Cool, pot belly with matching overall pudginess, ribbon of excellence, 'Walking Boss' glasses (remember Cool Hand Luke, and a red hunter’s hat. In rare instances, pigs do get a modicum of respect.
(Pig In, Pig Out, Wichita, Kansas)
A pig in semi-formal wear; skinny legs and arms–which defeats the purpose of being a pig, having anything skinny. Huge head, serving up a pork sandwich–in other words, a mutated pig, with good taste in clothes, serving up his brother.
(Bob Sykes, Bessemer, AL)
Best SouvenirT-Shirt Award. A good example of the "too much information, but we don't really care" school of advertising. One of the pigs is wearing a visor--too cool. They're smoking cigars and playing poker (or maybe a pig-related game called "porker"). And don't let it slide by that the pigs are smoking, and it's called the Smokehouse. Inventive, original, subtle, and most important--reeeally strange
(The Original Old Smokehouse, AL.)
One of my favorites and obviously influenced by the great masters. Like Picasso, Monet, and Pollock before him, "Chico" signed this quasi-masterpiece in the lower right corner. Why semi-master Chico would sign this monstrosity would require serious medication, some serious investigative reporting, or both! This is a bad-looking pig folks; I'm drawn to the definitive bug-eyes which go from the bridge of the nose to above the forehead--and, if you'll notice, the pig has a chin! A massive, jutting, Jay Leno-type chin!
(Hot Pit Bar-B-Q, Tupelo, Mississippi)
A sentimental favorite because we hardly see a sow in any of the no-respect, 'serving up their own' world of pigs in BBQ advertising. Who can resist the false eyelashes, the seductive smile, the elegance of the green cocktail dress, and, of course - the fork she's holding! Again, proportions seem to be out-of-whack: mega-head, muscular shoulders--but the chubby legs are more than cute.
(Jim’s, Tupelo, Mississippi)
Well friends, there you have it. An onslaught of consummate, semi-award winning bilge and a cavalcade of photographs so stunning, so sense-numbing that when the Pulitzer people get wind of this, they'll be attaining search warrants and heading in my direction.
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