Where did Piggly Wiggly come from?

Growing up in New Jersey, I never heard of the Piggly Wiggly ® until I sailed into Beaufort North Carolina. Even then, I thought the dockmaster was kidding when he told me about it. He said they had pig parts you never thought of eating.

He was right. Corned pig tails? Really? Not in my kitchen!

Where did the Piggly Wiggly ®, a.k.a. “The Pig”, come from? I assumed it was a southern thing. Well, yes, and no. The company started in the south, but its stores are now found out west in Texas and Oklahoma and up north in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Clarence Saunders, founder of the store chain, hailed from Tennessee, but he got the idea for a self-service store while working for a wholesale grocery firm in Omaha Nebraska. He returned to Tennessee and opened the first self-serve grocery store in the country there in 1916.

Credited with many innovative ideas, Saunders became a pioneer in the supermarket business. The chain eventually grew to over 2,000 stores. At one time, they sold stock and were traded on the NY Stock Exchange. Not bad for a wiggly pig.

Thinking a cute name enticed customers, Hinky Dinky supermarkets (I’m not kidding!) tried unsuccessfully to compete with The Pig in Omaha in the 1920s. The Pig marches on, but The last Hinky Dinky in Omaha closed in 2,000. Major renovations are planned for that building in 2017.

These things are just an example of the things a writer learns when she falls down the research rabbit hole. I hope you enjoy them.

Have you ever been in a Piggly Wiggly ® or Hinky Dinky?

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