By Marianne MacDonnal, provided by Joachim Heijndermans
Art provided by Leigh Legler
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On Wednesday, February 12th, a day that will never be forgotten by anyone who lived through the Pork Wars, Hammy the pig died.
Hammy was the last naturally born pig before the event that sterilized the entire swine genus (or Sus genus, for you biologists out there). Massive infertility struck pigs of both genders. All pigs, young and old, from pot-belly to Berkshire, were rendered incapable of producing offspring. [Click here to learn more about pigs and their history.] There have been no recorded births of new piglets since then. The cause of this event, nicknamed the Great Crunch, is unknown. Biologists are still unsure how it happened, with plenty of theories being thrown around. Nothing was ever confirmed. But its effects were disastrous for the pig population, and for the next twenty years, it would shape our own culture in dramatic ways.
When we discovered that pigs stopped breeding and our supply of pork would run out someday, we did what we always do in times of crisis. We panicked. The larger meat corporations began stockpiling as many pork products as they could find, driving store prices and stock value up. Pigs became the new oil, which, to clarify for our younger readers, was also once on the verge of running out before the Perseus Space missions to Mars. A better comparison might be pigs as the then equivalent of de eFace®-7SD. [Click here to pre-order yours now.] Prices skyrocketed beyond levels ever seen in food products before, with demand much higher than any company could ever supply. It didn’t take long before the need for pork exploded into a wave of violence.
During the pork riots in the wake of the Great Crunch, also referred to by some as the “bacon-apocalypse,” the pig population dropped even faster with the mass consumption and further stockpiling of edible pork products. Alternatives were found, but studies showed that even wild boars and warthogs were not immune to this sudden infertility. This news came far too late to save them from overzealous hunters under contract by the corporations. The last living wild boar was spotted in Germany, about five years after the Crunch. It was served at the wedding reception of then popular rapper T-zone and his now ex-wife and former celebutante, Kimy Khasfardian, where the animal was only half-eaten before being dumped into the couple’s swimming pool by Kyla Khasfardian, the bride’s sister. [Click here to see the video.]
Hammy, born to a litter of seven piglets from the sow named Gloria, was the only survivor after the Manor pig farm, privately owned by the Richmond family, was raided by men in the employ of Finelands Pork Ltd. The then unnamed piglet managed to hide under a wheelbarrow as the marauders raided the farm and confiscated the two hundred pigs from Manor farm, including all of his siblings, and dragged them away to be slaughtered and processed.
He was discovered by the family’s youngest daughter Kelly the very next day. Despite the high bounty that the companies offered for first grade pork, the Richmonds elected to let their last piglet live out his life in peace. Dubbing him Hammy, they would spend their next few years hiding their cloven-hooved survivor from the prying eyes of others, especially the meat corporations. For nearly two years, the Richmonds hid–
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–the piglet in their cellar, providing him with plenty of food and heat to survive underground.
“We just wanted him to live a happy life. It was horrible how they took all the pigs from their homes. The way they treated those poor animals was monstrous. Some were cut down in the streets,” says Kelly Richmond. “I begged my dad to just let him be. Give him the life we always gave to all our other pigs.”
It was down in that basement that Hammy sat out the entirety of what would become the Pork Wars. Desperate for the supple, sweet meat of pigs, corporations turned against each other and did not shy away from using violence to obtain their competitor’s supply. Terror swept the countryside, as not only mercenaries hired by the corporations began taking away the farmer’s livestock by force, but corporate sabotage became so common that 60% of the companies were forced to file bankruptcy or sell their assets to competitors. The meat industry fell apart, while Hammy lived on, oblivious to the rampage that brought his kind to extinction.
Hammy’s survival was revealed to the world two years after the last pig was slaughtered. Real pork was the most sought-after product on the black market, even if most of it was spoiled by this point. When the secret of Hammy’s survival was leaked, this led to an uproar on both sides of the Atlantic. President Kohls of the United States offered to forgo the massive debt owed by the UK, which was amassed during the Harding administration, in exchange for the elusive pig. Animal rights groups protested this and suggested to have Hammy flown to Hokkaido, Japan, to release him into a wild reserve where farmers once let their pigs roam free. This plan was abandoned when the convoy set to transport the swine was hijacked prematurely, when it was yet to retrieve Hammy. The pig was marked for death, and something needed to be done if he was to survive.
Kelly and her brother Steven–
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–took the initiative to have Hammy placed under care at the biotech lab SoTac Industries, who began their illustrious “Pork 2.0” project. By their estimate, new swine could be created from Hammy’s DNA and gestated within other animals such as tapirs and cows. Within a year, the company was seemingly successful in their endeavors, as the first batch of new piglets was born from a heifer. Once the first chops of Pork 2.0 hit the market, the reaction was not as expected [Click here to see the original ad for Pork 2.0.] There were outcries to ban the product by religious groups who deemed it unnatural meat born from man’s meddling in nature. Many who did taste it felt it wasn’t like the real thing, describing it as having a waxy texture and a plastic aftertaste that caused nausea later on.
Controversy about the new product increased when SoTac was discovered to have used human DNA to alter genomes that couldn’t be cloned. This led to many, many lawsuits and the eventual bankruptcy of SoTac, with still no definitive replacement for the almost completely vanished pigs, barring good ol’ Hammy.
In their attempt to stave off their financial woes, SoTac nearly sold Hammy to a butchery, who offered a steep bid of £20 million for the pig. The news that the last pig on earth could be purchased led to a wide spree bidding war between the richest of the richest. It wasn’t until the Richmond family proved that Hammy was simply loaned out to SoTac for research purposes and not the company’s property, that the pig was returned to its rightful owners. Once again, they were Hammy’s sole guardians, who kept the pig from becoming someone’s dinner. After Hammy was returned, attempts to steal the pig occurred almost weekly. To protect themselves, the Richmond family turned the Manor farm into a literal fortress, with barbed wire fences and motion sensors. No-one would get in, not by the hairs on Hammy’s chinny-chin-chin (ask your parents).
After a few years of being under constant surveillance, Hammy became of celebrity of sorts. Guest appearances on the Late Show with Dave Seasons, Top Gear, and the Night at the Proms caused his popularity to soar. This grew even further after a particularly grumpy snapshot of him on his sixth birthday evolved into the popular meme “Hammy Disapproves” on many image sharing sites. [Click here for original image of grumpy Hammy.] His newfound fame even led to a series of small cameos on a number of network streamed shows, including an appearance on the revived Doctor Who series as special guest character “Quintin the Hog” in the popular episode “The Inconceivable Idea.” [Click here to download the episode now.]
There was even an attempt by the SBS12 Network to create a new reality series that would host a mass public vote to rename the pig, with the top runners for the new name being Mr. Snout, Snack, Bacon, Waddles, Babe, Señor Oinkles, Piggles McOinkFace the First, and Chris P. Bacons. But Hammy was too popular a name to just toss aside, and the outturn of voters was so far below the expected numbers that advertisers pulled out from the project. Fearing a planned protest, SBS12 cancelled the show in the midst of its run. No new name was picked. Hammy he was, and Hammy he would remain. Instead, Hammy became a special guest host on “Dancing with the Vloggers” during the show’s–
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–notorious eighth season, where once again an attempt was made to steal the world’s most famous swine. Contestant Sam “DzorRay12” Demingo leapt off-stage, jumped up onto the judges table, and ran off with Hammy under his arm. Fortunately, he was easily taken down by the security guards’ tasers and a few well-aimed swings of their batons. The pig was unharmed, but it seemed unlikely Demingo would ever dance again.
As with all things, time took its toll on Hammy. He lived the last years of his life out on the Manor farm, still being looked after by the remaining members of the Richmond family. He’d spend his days eating and rolling in his filth, as all pigs before him would do. “He was content,” says Steven Richmond, fighting back his tears. “And that was all we wanted for him. To be happy with what he did. It’s not much, but you gotta envy something than can be so happy with so little.”There will be a ceremony held in his honor at ZSL-2 Zoo, which is free for all to attend [Click here to save your seats now], while his remains will be cremated and scattered at a classified location.
Hammy, the world’s last natural born pig, became a symbol of a lost age. The time of the baconator, the pork chop, the Christmas ham, pork rinds, pig’s feet, the maple-bacon lollipop, spam, and even certain crisps loaded with pork enzymes, was over. America’s obsession with bacon died out in a whimper, and the German sausage industry vanished like other once-popular foods such as the cake-pop or the onion ring. Islamic countries and Jewish communities didn’t really notice, so Hammy was neither mourned or cursed. In the grand scheme of things, not much changed other than our eating habits.
But the pig’s impact on our collective consciousness is undeniable. A once mighty symbol for greed, gluttony, uncleanliness, good fortune for Germans, and bad fortune for sailors. In the east, they have been zodiac symbols for us to identify with. They’ve accompanied the monkey king on his journey to the west, pulled the cart of Marici, and carried Freyr on their backs. They have been molded from marzipan as winter treats or from porcelain to hold our pennies. But no more.
No longer will we await them to fly. No one will ever think of putting lipstick on them or feel like sweating like one. We won’t buy them in a poke or give piggyback rides to our children.
Porky Pig is now destined to become as alien to children as other classic cartoon animals based on now extinct creatures, like Tony the Tiger and the Tasmanian devil. Future generations will pick up books and need visual aides to picture Babe, Freddy, Snowball, Wilbur, and all the other pigs we wrote about so often. I can only imagine what they’d think of Hayao Miyazaki’s or Jim Henson’s bodies of work.
The pig is finished, with Hammy as its last representative, shutting the door on these silly pink oinking creatures and all the joy they gave us, often at their own expense.
Now, I wish to conclude this article with a few personal words. Rest well, Hammy. Sorry we mucked it up so much, and sorry we ate your chums. I hope your life was a pleasant one and that you were oblivious to what we were all arguing about regarding what to do with you, and all the horrible things we planned on doing. Goodbye, dear pig. T-t-that’s all folks.
Click here to read more from editor and contributing writer, Marianne MacDonnal.
Top ten Hammy facts, click here.
Proof that Hammy the pig is still alive. Click here to see the shocking photos.
Hammy cryogenically frozen to be the next president? Click here for the facts.
Marianne MacDonnal is a regular blogger and journalist for London-12. She won the Peabody award for her work on the third Tiananmen square riot and the Gail Simone award for best monthly comic series for Zen Laser. She lives in Soho with her cat Mittens and her dawg® Rowler.
Joachim Heijndermans writes, draws, and paints nearly every waking hour. Originally from the Netherlands, he’s been all over the world, boring people by spouting random trivia. His work has been featured in a number of publications, such as Metaphorosis, Hinnom Magazine, Every Day Fiction, Asymmetry Fiction, Kraxon Magazine, and Gathering Storm Magazine. He’s currently in the midst of completing his first children’s book. You can check out his other work at www.joachimheijndermans.com, or follow him on Twitter:@jheijndermans.
Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.
“In memoriam: Hammy, the Last Pig on Earth” is © 2018 Joachim Heijndermans
Art accompanying story is © 2018 Leigh Legler