Earlier this week, my boss called me into her office to talk about a story I wrote last week about chicken fried bacon and the fried foods on sale at the San Antonio Rodeo. She told me that she liked my piece, but she wanted to see more perspectives. She wanted a fresh angle on the story. “Tell the story from their angle,” she said.
When she left the pronoun open, I decided to travel to north Texas, to talk to the voices behind that chicken fried bacon. This is that story.
DENTON, Texas — It’s not easy being a pig. But it’s even harder just being Wilbur.
“Well, yes, I know it’s happening soon,” he told me Tuesday. “I’m not an idiot. I saw ‘Food, Inc,’ too. I know it’s coming.”
For patrons at the San Antonio Rodeo & Stock Show, it’s Wilbur that will soon be coming to dinner. On food row, booths can’t keep corn dogs and chicken fried bacon in stock. Vendors are going through hundreds of pounds of pork each day, and with two weeks left in the Rodeo, they’ll need a lot more of Wilbur to keep those soon-to-be-pork-filled bellies happy.
But for an ordinary pig like Wilbur, the end of the road will be as bittersweet as the honey mustard he’ll eventually be served in.
“I always hoped that I’d end up on a Thanksgiving table, maybe as a honey baked ham” he said. “I didn’t think that they might ground me up and use me as the topping on a hot beef sundae.”
Wilbur’s not alone in that sentiment. There are hundreds of porkers here in North Texas, and the majority of these little piggies will not end up at market.
“I don’t have much of a choice,” Wilbur said. “I didn’t think I was going to grow old, to have some farmer wrap me in a blanket. But do I have to be slathered in ranch dressing when I go?”
Still, each new day brings Wilbur one day closer to his deep-fried destiny.
“You can fry me in batter. You can put a stick in me and coat me in cornmeal. You can slap me on a griddle,” Wilbur said. “I guess I can only hope that when I go, I’m delicious.”
A tear starts to crawl across his cheek, falling silently into the mud below Wilbur’s toes.
“That’s all I can ask,” he says.