I like pig butts and I cannot lie

Noted on a sign in Dan Gordon’s in Palo Alto yesterday — a place that specializes in barbequed meat, especially brisket and pulled pork. Meanwhile, I like pig butts and I cannot lie, with its double entendre play on butt, has apparently achieved meme status; it’s now available in many forms, including t-shirts from several suppliers:


The pig in the DG logo:


Relevant senses of the noun butt-3 in NOAD2:

1 (also butt end) the thicker end, especially of a tool or a weapon: a rifle butt.

2 (also butt end) the stub of a cigar or a cigarette

3 informal, chiefly North American the buttocks or anus.

This is missing the culinary sense related to 1 above (or possibly to a different lexical item butt; see Scott McClure’s comment below and my reply).

From Wikipedia:

(#3) American cuts of pork; Boston butt is derived from the blade shoulder (colored dark green in the diagram)

Boston butt or pork butt is the American name for a cut of pork that comes from the upper part of the shoulder from the front leg and may contain the blade bone. Boston butt is the most common cut used for pulled pork, a staple of barbecue in the southern United States.

And on pulled pork:

Pulled pork is a method of cooking pork where what would otherwise be a tough cut of meat is cooked slowly at low temperatures, allowing the meat to become tender enough so that it can be “pulled”, or easily broken into individual pieces. Pulled pork is found around the world in a variety of forms [in Mexico, as carnitas and cochinita pibil].

Pulled pork, usually shoulder cut (sometimes referred to as mixed cuts), is commonly slow-cooked by a smoking method, though a non-barbecue method might also be employed using a slow cooker or a domestic oven. In rural areas across the United States, either a pig roast/whole hog, mixed cuts of the pig/hog, or the shoulder cut (Boston Butt) alone are commonly used, and the pork is served with or without a vinegar-based sauce. Before cooking, it is common to soak the meat in brine; it provides the extra moisture needed for a long, slow cooking process. (Wikipedia link)

Sexual word play. The Pig Butt meme of course plays on the ambiguity of butt (cut of pork vs. ‘buttocks; anus’) and on sexual uses of pig. On the latter, see my 9/30/13 posting “Up Your Alley”, with its discussion of

the Saturday night dance party [at the Folsom Street Fair] is called Bay of Pigs — a play on the geographical name, involving pig as a sexual term, in the snowclonelet X pig, denoting someone who’s seriously into X (sex pig, involving sex in general or specifically “dirty sex” of various kinds; dick pigpiss pig) and in the compounds pig play and pig sex, referring to “dirty” sex.

The compound butt pig would then refer to someone who’s seriously into (anatomical, not culinary) butts sexually — either in anal intercourse or in anilingus, and in either of two roles in these acts. Perhaps because of the multiplicity of understandings, sexual butt pig seems to be very rare. Culinary butt pig would be a perfectly reasonable label for enthusiasts of pork butt / pulled pork (of whom there are many), but the intrusion of anatomical butt probably blocks it.

Sexual pig butt, referring to an anatomical butt in “dirty” sex, is also possible, but seems to have been blocked by culinary pig butt (despite its playful anatomic butt overtones).

Finally, there’s pulled pork, the culinary expression above, but ambiguous with a slang sexual sense, involving the sexual slang verb pull and the sexual slang noun pork.

On the verb, from GDoS:

7 to masturbate; usu. in comb. with a n. meaning penis…; thus pull off [to masturbate, oneself or another person; first cite 1909]

On the sexual noun pork ‘penis’, see this 5/20/17 posting .

4 Responses to “I like pig butts and I cannot lie”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Tim Wilson on Facebook:

    You got through that without mentioning the play on “I like big butts, and I cannot lie”.
    And then there are the “I like big books…” memes.

  2. Scott McClure Says:

    I just read the ‘Boston butt’ article on Wikipedia. The ‘culinary sense’ of ‘butt’ in ‘Boston butt’ is by way of ‘butt’ as a size of barrel used to pack salt pork, and not just ‘the thicker end’ sense, right?

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      An etymological puzzle. The OED has an entry for butt ‘cask, barrel’ (not a particular size of barrel), but doesn’t provide a culinary sense for this noun. In fact, the OED has no occurrence of Boston butt or pork butt anywhere in it, even in quotations. Meanwhile, Wikipedia got its culinary butt metonymy story from Ethan Trex (July 30, 2009), “How 9 Cuts of Meat Got their names” on the Mental Floss site. But Trex cites no source of the story, which might just be mythetymology (a plausible invention, but without any actual evidence). For the moment, then, pork butt / Boston butt as American names for pork shoulder should just, I guess, be treated as involving yet another lexical item butt, of unknown etymology.

      • Scott McClure Says:

        Thanks! I’ve heard the claim that ‘Boston butt’ comes from a type of barrel from other meat aficionados, but never, come to think of it, from a reliable source.

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