This piece originally appeared in issue #44 of our Gravy foodletter—The Gravy Barbecue Sandwich Issue.
by Rien Fertel
Picture a Piggly Wiggly without the wiggly. An all-hog supermarket. The soft glow of neon illuminates lowboy cases filled with every conceivable cut, chop, and chitlin. Across the highway, five days’ worth of live pigs fatten themselves for the slaughter. Deep in eastern North Carolina, where swine outnumber people, the Nahunta Pork Center sells everything but the hog’s hair. In 1975, after decades of farming, founder Mack Pierce stepped down from his tractor to open a retail storefront, focused on all things porcine. Today, his son, Larry Pierce, serves as the general manager. “They see that pig head sitting there in the meat case,” Larry says. And they think, “This is real.”