A pigheaded idea

By Bill Hudgins, columnist

If the Boss Hogs at the National Pork Board get their way, the pork chop’s goose is cooked. And, yes, the government is part of this conspiracy, which will no doubt affect the Mid-America Trucking Show and Land Line’s own MATS blog, “The Pork Chop Diaries.”

In early April, the NPB, which is a trade group for America’s “pork producers” (the polite term for pig farmers), announced that it had a green light from the USDA to rename up to 350 different cuts of meat –pork as well as beef. The rebranding, so to speak, is part of the Pork Checkoff Program, a marketing and consumer research effort.

Why change?

“The simpler names will help clear up confusion that consumers currently experience at the meat case, helping to move more pork in the long-term,” said National Pork Board President Conley Nelson.

So to help shoppers who don’t know what kind of a hunka-hunka grill grub they bought, pork butt will be known as “Boston roast.” Pork chops will wind up with several names – porterhouse chop, ribeye chop or New York chop.

Thanks for clearing that up, you Boston roasts.

But what will all this sleight of ham mean for the legendary pork chop sammiches devoured by thousands of MATS visitors?

I realize I’m hopelessly stuck on those old confusing names, but to me, “porterhouse” is a big, expensive cut of beef. And beef doesn’t smell like pork on the grill.

So I predict folks at MATS who

see “porterhouse” on a sign but smell grilling pork will snort and

say, “Nadine, we can’t afford porterhouse – but I wonder who’s cookin’ those pork chops?”

Land Line will clearly have to stay abreast of the times by renaming its popular MATS blog. How does “The Chop Shop” sound?

It seems that pork is the Rodney Dangerfield of meats, and the pork industry has boinked its snout more than once as they’ve rooted around for ways to put lipstick on the pig.

At one time, Olympic skating champ Peggy Fleming was the voice of pork and championing its wholesome qualities. Unfortunately, this coincided with the rising popularity of the Muppets, leading to her being rebranded as “Piggy” Fleming.

Now, besides renaming its products to sound more like beef, the Pork Board also says it’s OK to cook pork like steak.

That’s quite a switch from the industry’s long-running “Pork: the other white meat” campaign aimed at persuading consumers that sausage was as healthy as baked skinless chicken breast.

I guess the new slogan will be, “Pork: It’s what’s for dinner when you can’t afford beef.”

Will this rebranding nonsense hit other trucker-favorite foods, in an effort to clear up your confusion and move more product? Could we see:

• Chicken-fried steak: Not wanting to be associated with heart-unhealthy beef, the poultry industry will insist on calling it a “Crusty Chop.”

• Biscuits and sausage gravy: Wow, carbs and pork together –clearly some rebranding required here – how about “Open-face bakery sandwich”?

• Pancakes: I suppose we could call them “Extra-fluffy crepes.” But I like giving the menu a road-wise twist: Call a two-flapjack stack a tandem, a three-stack a triple, and for those watching their weight, serve them just one pancake, but call it a SuperSingle.

Going back to Mr. Pork Board’s explanation earlier, I couldn’t help but notice he said they hope this will “move more pork.” Since trucks carry most everything, that may be a silver lining in this mess of chitlins – more work for hog haulers.

But even they will have to clean up their act in keeping with this rebranding of the humble hog. No more pigtails – they’re thinking hog harness might be OK.

And instead of hog trailers adorned with Porky Pig decals, you’ll be pulling “Swineliners,” with bumper stickers like, “If it’s a-squealin’, I’m a-wheelin’!”

Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often. LL