We Finally Know Why Pork Was Called The Other White Meat

The average American consumes more than 50 pounds of pork per year. Although it currently trails chicken and beef as the most eaten meat in the U.S., pork does reign supreme as the world's most consumed protein — and for good reason. There are so many different cuts of pork and things you can make with them, from staples like bacon and ham to cookout favorites like pork chops and ribs. You can grind it up to make sausage or an extra rich hamburger patty, or fire up a pork butt in the oven or smoker to shred for barbecue pulled pork sandwiches.

Pork is versatile to be sure, but when you're competing against fellow heavyweights such as the beef and chicken industry, you need a strong marketing presence to stand out and convince people they should buy your product instead of the competition's. The National Pork Board found a persuasive winner in its "Pork: The Other White Meat" promotional campaign launched in 1987 and spanning decades. Now we finally know why this moniker was chosen.

Pork had a reputation as an unhealthy meat

Despite what the tagline's wording might imply, pork is not actually white meat — the USDA classifies it as red meat — so the core of the slogan didn't make much sense. However, "The Other White Meat" was intended to tout pork as a healthier food option than it had previously been portrayed. The campaign aimed to present pork as a nutritious alternative to chicken (which is classified as white meat) that could be used in a variety of delicious meals without negatively impacting consumers' health. Pork is indeed protein-rich, and the tagline promoted the meat as a source of lean protein that is also low in fat.

Although it stood the test of time as one of history's most recognizable ad campaigns, some pork producers have complained about the misleading nature of the slogan, noting that their high-quality pork has more of a reddish color to it. The National Pork Board's memorable catchphrase was eventually replaced in 2011 with the new slogan, "Pork: Be Inspired." "The Other White Meat" was briefly revived in the fall of 2021 to capitalize on its nostalgia factor with the Gen X crowd.