While most money-saving people will keep their funds in wallets or banks, plenty – mainly children, collectors, or those with small change – will use a piggy bank. It is probably one of the most confusing match-ups in modern times, so how did the pig become associated with storing money in a fragile and smashable case?
The origin of the piggy bank, unlike its first creator, is actually known, and is thought mainly to be the work of the development of the English language. Throughout much of the Middle Ages, the word ‘pygg’ was a way to describe a form of clay, from which people made an assortment of useful houshold items, namely jars.
One such jar was a small pot-style item known as a ‘pygg jar’ in which people that used them would store their money. By the 18th century, the English language was now pronouncing the word for the animal ‘pig’ in a similar manner, and one unknown person during that era seems to have made the key link between the two similar words (pig-pygg) that created an iconic product.
The ‘pig bank’ obviously must have went down well with people who bought them, and by the mid-20th century it was one of the most popular and commonplace methods of storing money, as well as some starting to be made from materials more practical and durable than their clay-based origin. In more recent times, the definition of ‘piggy bank’ has extended a bit, and while this does mean that other animals (such as bunnies or sheep) are featured as money-storing objects, nothing seems to be coming even close to the popularity of the pig in this respect.
While the piggy bank has been featured as a mascot for banks and financial services, the most prominent use of them in popular culture is arguably being ‘smashed’ in a film or TV series when a character is desperately in need of some money. This ‘sledgehammer moment’ is probably not seen as much in reality, but this video does show one getting the cruel treatment in slow-motion: