Why Are Pork Pies Called Growlers? Experts Explain

Have you ever heard someone refer to a pork pie as a “growler”?

If you’re not from Yorkshire, you might be scratching your head wondering where this nickname came from.

Well, it turns out that there are a few theories floating around about the origin of this peculiar term.

Some say it’s because the inside of the pie looks like dog food, while others suggest it’s because the ingredients used to make pork pies were once so questionable that they would cause your stomach to growl in protest.

In this article, we’ll explore the various explanations for why pork pies are called growlers and try to get to the bottom of this curious culinary mystery.

Why Are Pork Pies Called Growlers?

One theory about the origin of the term “growler” for pork pies is that it comes from Yorkshire slang. In this region, pork pies are often served hot with gravy or mushy peas and mint sauce, and they are a common feature at Bonfire Night celebrations.

The annual pork pie competition held at The Old Bridge Inn in Ripponden, Yorkshire, also adds to the popularity of this savory treat in the region.

Some people believe that the term “growler” comes from the “NAAFI growler” used in earlier naval and army slang. This term referred to a lidded bucket or beer jug, which could be similar in shape to a pork pie.

Another theory is that the name “growler” comes from the sound a pig makes when it’s angry or hungry. Since pork is the main ingredient in these pies, it’s possible that this connection led to the nickname.

There is also a suspicion that the term “growler” may have come about due to the dubious ingredients used in traditional pork pies, such as grease. This could have caused stomach growling or other digestive issues after eating them.

The History Of Pork Pies In Yorkshire

Pork pies have a long history in Yorkshire, dating back to the 18th century. These savory snacks were originally made by farmers as a way to use up leftover pork and create a portable meal for workers in the fields.

Over time, pork pies became more popular and were sold in local markets and shops. In the 19th century, larger bakeries began producing pork pies on a larger scale, and they became a staple food in the region.

The popularity of pork pies in Yorkshire led to the creation of the annual pork pie competition at The Old Bridge Inn in Ripponden. This competition has been held for over 18 years and draws pie enthusiasts from all over the country.

In Yorkshire slang, pork pies are sometimes called “growlers,” a term that may have originated from the sound of a pig’s growling stomach or from earlier naval and army slang. Regardless of its origins, the term “growler” has become synonymous with pork pies in Yorkshire and is still used today.

Today, pork pies remain a beloved food in Yorkshire and are often served hot with gravy or mushy peas and mint sauce. They are also a popular feature at Bonfire Night celebrations, adding to their cultural significance in the region.

The Origins Of The Term Growler

The term “growler” has been used to describe various things over the years, including a lidded bucket or beer jug, a small iceberg, and even a type of sturdy horse carriage. However, the origin of the term in relation to pork pies is not entirely clear.

One theory suggests that the term “growler” for pork pies may have come about in a similar way to the term “dog” for hot dogs or sausage rolls. Students at Yale University began referring to wagons selling hot sausages in buns outside their dorms as “dog wagons,” possibly due to suspicions that the sausages contained dog meat. Similarly, it’s possible that the name “growler” for pork pies may have originated from suspicions about the dubious ingredients used in traditional pork pies.

Another theory is that the name “growler” comes from the sound made by the CO2 escaping from the pail or bucket used to carry beer home. This could be related to the grumbling noises that might be heard from someone’s stomach after eating a heavy pork pie.

It’s also worth noting that the term “growler” has been used anecdotally in South Yorkshire for pork pies and from about 2004 onwards in Cumbria for dry beef pies. The exact origin of the term is unclear, but it seems to be connected to various objects and situations where there is some kind of grumbling or rumbling noise involved.

The Dog Food Theory

Another theory about the origin of the term “growler” for pork pies is the “dog food theory.” In the 19th century, there was a suspicion that sausages contained dog meat, which may have led to the term “dog” for hot dogs or sausage rolls. This connection between sausages and dog meat may have spread to pork pies, leading to the nickname “growler.”

It’s important to note that there is no concrete evidence to support this theory, and it remains purely anecdotal. However, it does add an interesting layer to the history and folklore surrounding pork pies and their nicknames.

The Questionable Ingredients Theory

One of the theories about the origin of the term “growler” for pork pies is related to the questionable ingredients used in traditional recipes. Pork pies have been made with ingredients such as grease, which were of dubious quality and could cause digestive issues. As a result, it’s possible that the nickname “growler” came about due to the growling sounds that people’s stomachs made after eating them.

This theory is supported by the fact that the term “growler” has also been used in other contexts to describe stomach growling. Additionally, the suspicion that sausages contained dog meat during the 19th century may have contributed to the spread of this idea, as people were wary of consuming questionable ingredients.

While this theory cannot be confirmed, it provides an interesting perspective on the history of pork pies and how they got their unique nickname. Regardless of its origins, pork pies remain a beloved dish in Yorkshire and beyond, and continue to be enjoyed by many as a tasty and satisfying snack or meal.

The Modern Pork Pie: A Delicious Delicacy

Despite its long history, the pork pie has evolved over time to become a modern delicacy enjoyed by people all over the world. Today’s pork pies are made with a variety of different fillings and pastry crusts, and they can be served hot or cold.

One popular type of pork pie is the British pork pie, which is made with hot water crust pastry and filled with seasoned pork and a strong stock that sets into a savory jelly. This classic recipe is a staple in many British households and is often enjoyed during special occasions such as picnics or parties.

In addition to traditional pork pies, there are also many new and innovative flavors available today. Some modern pork pies feature unique ingredients such as chorizo or black pudding, while others are made with vegetarian or vegan fillings for those who prefer plant-based options.