Pass The Pigs
September 29, 2020
This ancient game was first played some 3000 years ago and, according to the official rules, in the ‘renowned land of Pigalonia.’
I suppose all my readers can be forgiven their ignorance of pig tossing as an enjoyable pastime as we now live in an era when doing so would immediately draw the scrutiny of the PETA police directly to your abode.
Since most civilized people in the United States no longer have a pig or two residing in a sty or a corner of their cabin, we can assume that had it not been for Dr. Cyrus Whopper, who discovered the game while traveling in Germany, it would have been lost in the mists of time.
A debt of gratitude is owed to said doctor who introduced a more mundane version of pig tossing in a game he named ‘Pigmania!’. According to the literature included with the game:
“In 1977, Cy Whopper, a lover of kosher bacon since boyhood, decided to enhance the rather tarnished image of pigs by introducing Pigmania to the modern world. ‘After all,’ snorted Whopper, ‘pigs have been pushed around long enough. Every day you hear people saying ‘you look like a pig,’ ‘you eat like a pig,’ ‘you dress like a pig,’ ‘you smell like a pig,’ ‘you’re a male chauvinist pig,’ ‘you have swine flu.’
In truth pigs are the most intelligent creatures on earth, only exceeded by some human beings and all dolphins.
Pigs are lucky, pigs are useful, pigs have class.
It is time something is done on their behalf… thus Pigmania.”
To play the game, each player takes turns tossing a pair of tiny plastic pigs out of a cup labeled ‘pig sty.’ To earn points, the players are seeking to have their pigs land in any of the following ways:
Siders – two pigs laying on their sides, facing the same direction
Hoofer – a single pig standing on its feet.
Double Hoofer – yes, two pigs standing on their feet.
Snouter – a single pig leaning on it’s snout and two front feet.
Double Snouter – two pigs resting on their snouts..
Razorback – a single pig laying feet up.
Double Razorback – two pigs on their backs.
Leaning Jowler – a single pig, listing to the left, using it’s left ear and left leg for support.
Double Leaning Jowler – the rarest and most difficult to achieve toss.
Mixed Combo – Any combination of both pigs being in two different aforementioned positions.
If the pigs land on the table with their snouts facing opposite directions, then that’s called a ‘Pig Out’ and your turn is over. Same thing if you end up “Makin’ Bacon’ which is the pigs land touching one another!
Alas, the original Pigmania! was acquired – as is the way with pretty much any successful game idea – by a much bigger farmer.
Now, if you thought the Infallible Wikipedia might draw blanks on this topic, you would be wrong:
“Pass the Pigs is a commercial version of the dice game Pig, but using custom asymmetrical throwing dice, similar to shagai. It was created by David Moffatt and published by Recycled Paper Products as Pig Mania! in 1977. The publishing license was later sold to Milton Bradley and the game renamed Pass the Pigs. In 2001, publishing rights for North America were sold to Winning Moves, which acquired the game outright from David Moffat Enterprises in early 2017.”
It was sometime in the early 1980’s when the hubby and I were introduced to Pigmania! I can no longer recall who introduced us. Undoubtedly when that person reads this article they will take their rightful credit and shout ‘soo-eee!”
Simple in its concept and play, it provided some fun as an amusing parlor game. Over time, it was relegated to the game ‘cupboard’ which was actually a repurposed credenza from a business office. When our son was about 1 ½ , he discovered the wondrous credenza full of mystery boxes. A daily favorite activity was to excavate all his favorites (which was all of them unfortunately) and soon there was a mess of Monopoly money, Clue markers and weapons, poker chips, and tiny soldiers, scattered across the floor.
Being a first time Mom I put up with this for a while then decided that a few games could be sacrificed to the enthusiasm of a toddler. The rest, however, were stowed away on a high shelf. It was several years, and a second child, later before the games reappeared.
Turns out that the tiny Pigmania! pigs were highly popular. Said second child left her mark on the directions, ‘coloring’ the pictures of pigs with a Number 2 pencil. At some point she either used a thumb tack to post the story and rules to a wall or poked the pencil through the paper.
Over time the obsession faded and Pigmania! – rather worse for the wear – returned to the game cupboard, forgotten. Or so I thought.
This past weekend we had a planned trip with our daughter and her fiance to the beach. Being that it was the beach, and the weather is always a question mark, I asked her if there were any games the hubby and I should bring along in case of inclement weather. Her response: Uno!
Her reply was followed with this text message exchange:
Me: “Only Uno?”
Her: “I don’t really know what the other options are.”
Me: “Well, I’ll bring Uno. Padre is willing to play that. I put in a couple decks of cards also. There’s Sequence. And Skipbo.”
Then I sent a photo of our current game cupboard. The following one word reply was all she included:
Me: “I didn’t get it and we are in the car. Do I need to go back? I can. We haven’t left the driveway.”
Of course, I could almost hear the disappointment through the text message. And even though it was raining Noah and his ark sort of rain, I returned to the house and got Pigmania.
On Saturday, my 27 year old daughter, her fiancé, and I played Pigmania! We competed, we threw shade at one another, we laughed, and we connected.
For both she and I it was reliving just a bit of her childhood in the very best of ways. When the mud had settled from our three way Pig Sty battle, the daughter and I each had a pair of victories in our columns, while her poor fiancé was left out in the cold.
Even more than that, however, is that I was glad Pigmania! had survived the purges of a couple of moves as well as the enthusiastic scribblings of a little girl. In the process it became a tangible symbol of the best of childhood and will always have a home in our game cupboard, no matter how shabby. Pass The Pigs! and may your Pig Out’s be few.