Published January 1, 2004.
Does this hooded bowl really prevent moisture from collecting on salt?
This salt pig, about 4 inches wide and 5 inches tall, holds about half a pound of salt. The knob on top is for carrying and the large, round opening provides easy access to the salt. The hood distinguishes the salt pig from the salt cellar, which is generally a small, open bowl. It's also thought that the hooded shape keeps moisture from collecting on the salt. We left this salt pig out the kitchen counter for a couple of months during the summer (which included a couple of very humid weeks) and the salt did indeed remain dry, with no clumping whatsoever.
We couldn't help but wonder how the salt "pig" got its name and so contacted a couple of lexicographers, one of whom made his way to the Scottish National Dictionary. This reference indicated that this use of "pig" is an old one found mostly in Scots and northern English dialect, where it means an earthenware vessel, specifically "a pot, jar, pitcher, [or] crock," which fits the notion of a salt pig very nicely. According to the same dictionary, "pig" or "penny pig" can mean "an earthenware money-box, now sometimes made in the form of the animal pig," while the "piggy" in "piggy bank" originally meant "made of earthenware." The pig shape was apparently a visual pun.