The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

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The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

Spyglass

The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

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The Backstory: The True Meaning of Christmas in Beheading a Candy Pig

The+Backstory+is+a+column+celebrating+fun+and+forgotten+history%21
Jacqueline L.
The Backstory is a column celebrating fun and forgotten history!

The Backstory is a column celebrating fun and forgotten history! 

My favorite way to celebrate the holiday season and relieve post-semester stress is by smashing a pig with a hammer.

But the pig is made of peppermint candy, so it’s OK. 

Let me explain. 

My parents grew up in Saratoga, New York. It’s a small town with a big legacy: Saratoga is home to an ugly patch of grass where George Washington did some stuff that my history teachers tell me was important, and, more importantly, it’s where hot fudge and the potato chip were born. But most importantly, it’s home to the peppermint pig. 

Ye Olden family gathers to whack the pig
(Ilena M.)

In ye olden days, pigs symbolized health, happiness, and financial prosperity. Glucksschwein (Lucky Pig) imagery has waddled through German art since the Middle Ages. In Europe, it’s common to enjoy pigs molded out of marzipan as a holiday treateven today. 

The Peppermint Pig in his sugary glory (Ilena M.)

But everything changed when they added peppermint to the mix. In the mid-19th century, European chefs immigrated to Saratoga to support the town’s bustling tourist economy, which, with its legendary horse racing and smelly mineral water (and soon, peppermint pigs), was a go-to getaway for the rich and famous. 

Feeling homesick during the holidays, workers requested the local candymaker to whip up some marzipan pigs. But, as legend has it, marzipan was too hard to get a hold of, so the clever confectioner improvised. He poured peppermint candy into the pig mold and… voilà! The perfect porkless delicacy was born. 

The time has come to break your pig
(Ilena M.)

There was only one slight hiccup: the pigs were too big for a bite-sized treat and customers had to break them apart to eat. But never fear! The pigs were packaged in red velvet bags alongside teeny-tiny silver mallets, and, when the locals went hog wild for them, a tradition was bornfamilies would pass their peppermint pig around the Christmas table, each member breaking off a piece and sharing words of gratitude. 

The author’s friends destroy the peppermint pig on New Year’s Eve (Ilena M.)

The business blossomed for over half a century. It came to a screeching halt during WWII when sugar rationing obliterated pig production, but a local family brought them back forty years later. Today, customers can choose from a whole crew of peppermint pigsbaby Tucker (who’s dipped in chocolate), little Holly, medium Noel, and large Clarence. 

Little Ilena poses with the real pigs that live alongside their peppermint counterparts at Saratoga Sweets. (Ilena M.)

I think my parents might be single-handedly keeping the peppermint pig business alive, but, by sharing our favorite holiday treat with friends and family, we carry on its tradition of joy and togetherness, one whack at a time. 

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About the Contributor
Ilena M., Editor, Former Editor in Chief, Columnist
Ilena is passionate about stories— especially histories— good snacks, and bad puns. She has been on Spyglass for a very long time. Ilena is a senior.

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