Boris Johnson’s praise this week for Peppa Pig has stunned the nation.
Because it turns out that a significant part of the population has no idea who the prime minister was talking about in a speech to business leaders.
Peppa even rakes in billions – and, as Tom Rawstorne reveals, she’s not the only famous little piggy to take the world by storm…
So let’s get this straight – what little piggies are we talking about?
Peppa Pig and Percy Pig
They sound sweet…
Well, Percy sure is – he’s a chubby pink candy sold exclusively by Marks & Spencer, turning 30 next year. Peppa is cute too – she’s a four-year-old cartoon girl pig who has entertained children since the first British fencing in 2004.
How can I spot them?
Well, they’re pigs. Or rather anthropomorphic pigs. On Monday, Boris said wearing Peppa was like having a “Picasso-esque hair dryer.” But Percy’s crushed snout looks like he’s chasing parked tractors.
Why is her name Peppa?
You mean besides the alliteration? Well, her three British creators wanted Peppa – described as a ‘sweet but slightly bossy piggy’ – to be a little ‘peppery’. She lives with mama pig, papa pig and her little brother George. But she also has many other alliterative friends, including Danny Dog and Zoe Zebra.
Is poor Percy all alone?
Not in the least. Percy has been married to Penny since 2018, their marriage marked by M&S with the release of new packs of candy featuring the couple in wedding attire (£1.65 per pack).
So Percy is more than a little piggy?
Too right. It is estimated that ten Percy Pigs are sold every second and he raises £50 million a year for M&S. Not bad, because when the candies first went on sale, some customers feared they would taste like bacon.
What if I don’t like sweet?
Have no fear because you can also buy Percy Pig pyjamas, Percy Pig wrapping paper, Percy Pig dog beds and everything in between.
Percy is the real Daddy Pig then?
Far from. As Boris tried to explain, Peppa makes sausage meat from Percy in cash. She is one of the leading preschool TV programs in the UK and US and has been translated into 40 languages with a worldwide turnover of £1 billion a year. In 2019, Entertainment One, which owned most of the rights to the series, was sold to US toy giant Hasbro for £3.3 billion.
So Boris didn’t tell porkies when he said Peppa was “pure genius”…
Definitely not – but there have been some rocky spots in the pigsty. In the first two series, Peppa and her family did not wear seat belts, causing complications. Meanwhile, the national broadcaster in Australia, home to some of the world’s most dangerous arachnids, banned an episode in which Peppa assures her brother that spiders are harmless.
Any other hiccups?
Yes. Peppa has been accused of reinforcing modern stereotypes with multitasking Mummy Pig, while hapless Daddy Pig has been the butt of family jokes.
But Percy is just a sweetheart, isn’t he?
Yes, but in 2019, Percy fans threatened a boycott after pork-derived gelatin was removed from the recipe and Percy went vegetarian. Some consumers claimed the new candies were “soapy.” Then last year M&S was criticized for the packaging with phrases like ‘Made with real fruit juice’. Food activist Henry Dimbleby accused the company of ‘cheating’. But M&S hit back, saying its boast that Percy Pigs have no artificial flavors was true, pointing out that a range with a third less sugar had also recently been released.