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Why Is An Apple Placed In The Mouth Of A Hog Roast?

Updated: Apr 4

Whenever you see depictions of a hog roast, they almost always have an apple placed in their mouth, and this longstanding tradition has been followed by many vendors, restaurants and barbeque enthusiasts in the centuries since.

Part of it is that there is a longstanding tradition between apples and pork; the use of apple sauce with pork dishes is far from a new tradition after all, and applewood is commonly used to smoke pork due to its particular aroma.

Some people, therefore, believe that the apple symbolises the taste connection between the two, or a connection between the cycle of life and death. As pigs enjoyed apples in life, so too do they enjoy them in death.

Some take this theory a little further; roast pork has been traditionally associated with harvest festivals, during which time a lot of pigs are fed with apples under the belief that it makes the meat sweeter, particularly for more wild hogs that would have been more common during that time.

A further theory suggests that the apple is an important part of the cooking process, as the juice of the apple seeps into the cheeks and mouth, and back when the head of the roast pig was a delicacy, this would have helped it taste nicer.

In practice, however, the apple would fall apart long before it was brought to the feast, so even if that is the case, the fresher, brighter apple placed in its mouth when serving likely did not affect the flavour at all.

Ultimately, however, the most common answer besides tradition is the simplest. Placing an apple in the pig’s mouth makes it look happy, and particularly when roast pork was a centrepiece of banquets, the spectacle of the whole pig being brought up, apple in mouth, was guaranteed to elicit cheers and awe from the guests.

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