The Christmas tradition of the Peppermint Pig™ originated in the 1880’s when Jim Mangay, a candy maker in Saratoga Springs, New York cast candy pigs from hardened peppermint. It’s thought that European chefs who worked at Saratoga Springs’ hotels influenced him. They originally wanted him to make pigs from marzipan, but since that particular candy was not easy to obtain, he improvised.
A fun and affirming tradition evolved. After Christmas dinner, the head of a household would place a Peppermint Pig™ in a velveteen bag and break it with a small hammer. the Peppermint Pig™ would then be passed around the family table so that each person gathered could give it a tap. When it was your turn, you had to recount something good that happened that year. The diners would then eat the pieces while hoping for prosperity.
Why a pig, though? Wouldn’t a reindeer be better? Turns out that in Victorian times, the pig symbolized good health, happiness, and prosperity.