Cherish the Piggly Wiggly

I remember the Piggly Wiggly of my childhood. Small-town grocery stores created community; today, it makes me long for the days gone by.

When I was growing up, my little town didn’t have many choices when it came to going to the grocery store. It’s not like we had all these organic high-end grocery stores where you could run in and purchase something you’d never heard of. Nope, we just had your regular two or three stores.

Cherish the Piggly Wiggly Front Porch Life Magazine

Of course, my mother’s country store was there, but it was on the other side of the county. You know what we did have…a Piggly Wiggly! To this day, I can still see it. Isn’t it funny how a grocery store can be so embedded into your memory? It was locally owned, and the owners treated my family like family. Every time we came in, they asked,How are the twins today?My grandmother was probably in that store every other day. It would have never occurred to her to go to a different grocery store. If they didn’t have it at “The Pig,” then she wasn’t getting it. 

Oh, how I loved going to the grocery store with my grandmother because….well, HELLO….she was a grandmother, so she bought us stuff we probably shouldn’t have had. I remember her trying to keep us out of the cereal aisle, but that never worked well for her. We just had to have the latest toy or trinket that Captain Crunch of Fruit Loops was giving away with their box of sugary goodness. Later on, our Piggly Wiggly got VHS movie rentals…OH MY! That was the biggest thing EVER

Cherish the Piggly Wiggly

My grandmother was a very adventurous cook, and she was always looking for new products and testing new recipes. She made buffalo wings once (I know, but back then..this was a new thing for us) and she only made 12 in case they were a flop. My father gobbled up 6, looked around, and said, “Is there a shortage of chicken wings at The Pig? Why did you just make enough of these things for one person?”

As I got a little older, I remember being sent into “The Pig” to buy something, and I had to write a check on my father’s account. I didn’t even really know how to write the check. My Dad had already signed it, and I think I endorsed it. Ha! Of course, I messed it up and didn’t have another way to pay, and the sweet owner saw me, came out of his office, and said, “It’s ok honey, don’t worry about it, we’ll take care of it.” There is something to be said for knowing you have people around you who are watching out for you. It’s a comfort that is rare.

When Mom had her country store, she ran weekly tabs for everyone. Can you imagine? People just came in, got their groceries, she wrote it down, and they paid it off at the end of the week or month. There was such a level of trust that came from that small-town community. People cared, genuinely wanted to see you happy, and were always willing to lend a hand when you messed up or needed help. 

It may be strange how a local grocery store can hold memories for us as we get older. We all have those places, maybe for you, it’s a little diner, the local bank, but in all honestly….it’s the people, isn’t it? It’s the people that were inside “The Pig” who made me feel at home and created an experience that I still remember in my mid-forties. Those little pats on the back or helping hands mean something. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of all aspects of life. In this day and age, we have so many distractions that we need distractions to distract us. But maybe, if we can slow down enough to pat someone on the back or reach out a hand, we can help create a nostalgic experience for someone else.

This article was originally published in our Spring 2022 Front Porch Life magazine issue. Leigh’s thoughts can be found in every issue of Front Porch Life.

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6 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh ! I know exactly what you mean. We also went to the pig where everyone knew us. The butcher greeted my mom and asked what she wanted. He cut the pork chops and roast exactly like she said. He weighed out the hamburger meat exactly. There were no prepackaged meats then. There weren’t as many choices on the canned goods etc. but that was fine. Who needed 5 choices of catsup anyway. As we made our way up and down the aisles, we stopped to chat or speak to everyone and ask about their family and caught up on their news. I do miss those days. My brother and I say that we grew up in just the right era. I love your recipes. So many of them remind me of how my mom cooked and it takes me back to a better time. Thank you!
    Nancy

    1. We still have a Piggly Wiggly in Vienna, GA, a real small town below Macon; 68 or so miles south. I love that Piggly Wiggly and worry that some day soon it also will be closed. For that reason I go out of my way to shop their, they still have great meats, and I always find something that I did not know I needed. Like you and your grandmother, I love the Piggly Wiggly .

  2. Hi. Unlike you and your family members, me and my family had NEVER heard of a Piggy Wiggly store. We were Yankee transplants from PA to NC. Never saw a Piggy Wiggly in our neck of the woods of NC, either, but we DID make a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC one year, in the mid 1990’s. Me, my mother, niece and my two teen-age sons. We were driving along and spotted that sign “Piggly Wiggly”, which we thought was SO funny. We just had to stop and go inside. There we were, ALL acting like little kids. We split up and went in different aisles, finding items with the Piggy Wiggly brand on it, laughing, and running to another aisle to show the other family member. People began looking at us. We were trying very hard to keep our volume down. But when my older son, whose voice had changed to a deeper tone said, “Hey, Piggly Wiggly EGGS”, we all burst out laughing. Something about pigs and eggs didn’t seem to go together. Anyway, it was a nice story with a homey feel to it. Will never forget it nor our the memories.

  3. Oh, I meant to say “it was a nice STORE with a homey feel to it.” Made a typo. Sorry

    Deb

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