Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
Here in the UK, we’re living in an era of pigs in blankets mania. Nowadays, you can buy them vegan, battered and even stuffed in a massive Yorkshire pudding.
In fact, there’s barely a table of Christmas nibbles that doesn’t feature the piggy little snack in one shape or form.
But did you know that a pig in a blanket is actually something totally different in the States?
Yup, over on Twitter, there’s a conversation raging about what pigs in blankets actually are, and the distinction between pigs in blankets and a pig in a blanket.
Stay with us, folks. It’s a wild ride.
Pigs in Blankets UK vs US
So, what are the pigs in blankets UK residents love so much? It might seem obvious (duh, it’s a cocktail sausage wrapped In bacon, right?!) but here’s the kicker: we’re rather alone in our bacon-wrapped culinary tradition.
In the US, pigs in blankets are instead known as pigs in a blanket, and are typically small sausages wrapped not in bacon but in croissant or biscuit dough.
Yup, we kid you not…
The fluffy pastry blankets are no doubt a lot warmer for the little piggies inside, but, as food critic Jay Rayner so eloquently put on Twitter: “THOSE ARE NOT PIGS IN BLANKETS. THEY’RE BLOODY SAUSAGE ROLLS.”
Jay’s reaction came several years ago, but the conversation rears its head every Christmas, and both the UK and the US are both passionate that their version of the Christmas snack is the best.
“I just learned that pigs in blankets are different in the US than what they are in the UK and my mind is blown,” said one British Twitter user.
Whilst another shared a snap of a US pig in a blanket and defiantly wrote: “We don’t need another mincemeat debacle. For your reference, this is a SAUSAGE ROLL. Pigs in blankets are sausages wrapped in bacon. Love from the UK.”
A bunch of confused Americans also chimed in, too.
“Have recently learned that “pigs in a blanket” in the UK means bacon wrapped sausages and it’s not just a nightmare keto thing instagram is showing me,” one wrote.
As another was equally baffled, and penned: “I am completely confused by the “Pigs in a Blanket” discourse…sausage wrapped in pastry is all I have ever known. Y’all really call sausage wrapped in bacon Pigs in a Blanket in the UK?!”
Where did Pigs in a Blanket come from?
There is some debate about when the very first pig in a blanket was invented.
The snack is mentioned in 1957 book, Betty Crocker’s ‘Cooking For Kids’ – using a frankfurter rather than a mini sausage – but we know the snack was around before this.
Historians have several theories about the exact origin of the pastry covered treat, but what they all agree on is that they were around for as long as a century before Mrs Crocker got her hands on them.
Some believe that the bite-sized treats were actually an Asian invention, seeing as there is a longstanding history of putting fish into pastry.
The theory is that Anglo-Saxons then got hold of this tradition and replaced the fish with red meat. Over time, this became a snack that was adopted by British field workers, to keep them full up whilst working.
And today, people are still eating the sausage stuffed snacks.
Why are UK pigs in blankets different?
So, how did UK pigs in blankets transform into the bacon wrapped delights we know them as today?
It all started because in the US, the name pigs in blankets was also used to describe another dish (oysters drained and pickled, and wrapped in bacon) known today as ‘angels on horseback’.
Recipes for this version of the snack could be found in the late 1800s up until the early 1900s, but the name was used interchangeably to describe both the oyster version and the meaty alternative, with some UK recipe books beginning to tout a sausage-based pigs in blankets as early as the 1920s.
It’s likely that here in the UK, we eventually realised that it made more sense to call the sausage-based recipes ‘pigs in blankets’, and so we phased the oysters out.
Anyone else’s mind blown? Wait until you hear what form pigs in blankets take around the world… You can read more about that here.