Piggly Wiggly

Founded by Clarence Saunders 96 years ago, Piggly Wiggly is another notable self-rhyming brand name

Saunders’ reason for choosing the intriguing name Piggly Wiggly remains a mystery; he was curiously reluctant to explain its origin. One story is that he saw from a train window several little pigs struggling to get under a fence, and the rhyming name occurred to him then. Someone once asked him why he had chosen such an unusual name for his organization, and Saunders’ reply was, “So people will ask that very question.” He wanted and found a name that would be talked about and remembered.

Over the years Piggly Wiggly has trademarked quite a few versions and variations of their anthropomorphic pig mascot. (I like the radiating lines around pig and name in the two lower black & white trademarks. Makes the pig look embarrassed or flustered or something. Also reminds me of the Keith Haring “radiant baby” motif.)

More significant than the anthropomorphic logo, however, was Saunders’ patented “self-service” grocery store concept…

The challenge was to develop a system of retailing that was as rational, manageable, impersonal, and friction free as the systems by which the goods were produced. In 1916 the Memphis grocer Clarence Saunders developed the heart of such a system in his first Piggly Wiggly store. The system, which he patented, reconfigured the grocery store as a maze. Once shoppers passed through the turnstile, they were directed down one aisle, up the next, and on through the third and forth until they had passes every item in the store, before arriving at the cash register and exit. This system industrialized consumption by making shoppers assemblers of their own order.

Thomas Hine, The Total Package

Almost 100 years later, some of the “modernity” of the concept may have waned a bit…

By now Piggly Wiggly has evolved into a contemporary, strip-mall style store (similar in appearance to Hobby Lobby) and like most contemporary supermarkets, they have for some time carried their own brands.

Piggly Wiggly “Sunset Gold” evaporated milk label, 1959

A Piggly Wiggly “header card”

Another Piggly Wiggly evaporated milk label, 1980

Piggly Wiggly paper grocery bag and plastic produce bag

(More Piggly Wiggly branding, after the fold…)

Piggly Wiggly’s “Plymouth” brand coffee

Piggly Wiggly’s “Plymouth” brand tea bags

Piggly Wiggly “Sunset Gold” sandwich bread

Piggly Wiggly ice cream carton, 1959

Piggly Wiggly egg carton, 1959

Piggly Wiggly aluminum foil, 1970


  1. Chris Sobieniak says

    I remember when they tried a store in Toledo, OH, near where my late grandmother lived, but it only lasted a few months I recall. These days I wish it was still here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.