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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: The Pull of the Pork (for the Week of June 14, 2009)

June 14, 2009

Q. Dear Twig: Why do they call it pulled pork?


A. Because the meat, after cooking it, comes off of the bone and apart very easily. So easily, in fact, that you don't have to cut it, you can pull it apart if you want to. Add "pork" (meat from a pig) to the state of being pullable and in fact having just been "pulled," and, yep, you get "pulled pork." Not counting that you might or might not eat meat and might or might not eat pork, pulled or not.

Pulled pork's pullability comes from long, slow cooking at lowish temperatures. An example would be cooking it for, say, 12 hours at at least 165 degrees but at less than, say, 195. You do this, usually, in a barbecue. Fire, wood, coals and/or smoke give the heat. The process melts off the fat. And also it breaks down the collagen, tough connective tissue.

Next: But what's the name of the part of the pig that pulled pork actually comes from? Hint: It starts with a b and ends with two t's — but isn't that at all. Which is nice.



P.S. Learn about pigs, if you'd like to, in Ohio 4-H's Market Hog and Swine Breeding projects.



Download the Ohio 4-H Family Guide at It lists all the Ohio 4-H project books there are and tells you what they‘re about (plants, animals, gardening, you name it).

Two good pig books you might want to read if you're so inclined, and if you're not that's cool too of course, are Living with Pigs: Everything You Need to Know to Raise Your Own Porkers by Chuck Wooster (2008) and Pig Perfect: Encounters with Remarkable Swine and Some Great Ways to Cook Them by Peter Kaminsky (2005). Unlike this, they're written more for grown-ups. But they're fun to read and interesting anyway. ("Unlike this.") (Who said that?) ("Snort snort snort.")


About This:

"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick" is a weekly feature for children (ages 9+; 4th grade reading level) about science, nature, farming and the environment. Online at

Brought to you by your scientific friends at The Ohio State University — specifically, at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) ( and with Ohio State University Extension ( OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Written by Kurt Knebusch of OARDC and OSU Extension. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt at CommTech, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691;; (330) 263-3776.

Shameless sales pitch: Buy (or not) Twig's books at (enter "twig walkingstick" in the search box), including his latest, Beware the Flying Steamer Duck! Birds and What They Doo, and his previousest, Hairy Blenny and the Monkeyface Prickleback: Freshwater Life and a Bit 'o Salt — the latter the winner, believe it or not, of a 2008 gold award for writing and the 2008 outstanding professional skill award for writing from the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences, yeah, we know, go figure. Also available, his firstest (now back in print): Purple and Green and Stinky in Spring (bugs, plants, wildlife, farming).

Kurt Knebusch