The Piglet

Hey, What's Happening With the Piglet?

After ten memorable years, we're shaking things up with our beloved tournament of cookbooks.

by:
January 25, 2020
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Dear Food52ers,

Whether you’ve been part of our community for one year or all ten-plus, you’ve probably heard about our Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks (and if you haven’t, take a gander here—there’s quite a bit to catch up on!). Fifteen-second version: The Piglet is our annual month-long cookbook competition, in which sixteen of the very best cookbooks of the year enter into a bracketed-style face-off until one is deemed the winner. The judges—some of our favorite voices both in and outside of the food world—write (or video-record, or draw) an extended judgment declaring the winner and explaining their selection process.

We love the Piglet for its impassioned controversy, friendly competition, and insightful, in-depth coverage of the year’s top cookbooks. Most of all, we love the Piglet for its spirited community involvement: A dedicated group of you returns year after year to catch all the action and weigh in yourself. But as our community grows larger, and your interests become even more wide-ranging, we’ve realized we need to take a step back to listen and learn from you.

What we’ve learned is that the current way the Piglet’s run might not be working for you anymore. The last few years in particular, we’ve seen that readership has fallen quite a bit. Far fewer of you are engaging (and debating!) in the comments, or following along on social media. This could be because of a few things: You’ve mentioned that you’ve had a harder time finding the Piglet on our website lately; that you’d already heard about the books in the running that year, or didn’t like the sound of them; and that you didn’t get the message when we’ve had to make tweaks to the tournament’s dates or features.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I have followed the Piglet and Community Piglet from the beginning and echo the criticisms described in the article above: both (especially the Community Piglet) were difficult to find on the website; the match-ups did not make sense, etc. Now, rather than address those valid criticisms, you are going to do something completely different?? Best cookbooks of all time - super lame, whatever - is a 1 year project. Rather than fixing the top complaints for the 2020 contest and doing another adjustment of the top complaints each year, you ditch the whole thing? Without asking the community if we like that out-of-left-field idea? When you have a community that readily offers opinions, when you are capable of posting questionnaires and acting on the information, why do you drop both Piglets and do something we have not asked for? All-or-nothing thinking on the part of Food 52 editorial team is dismissive to the community. ("Since you complained, we will cancel the whole thing. There. Now you have something to complain about.") I am very disappointed in your failure to engage with us, your community. ”
— garlic&lemon
Comment

We’ve also learned that you appreciate two things in particular about the Piglet: deep-dives into cookbooks and thoughtful takes from our community. Case in point: Excitement around the Piglet Community Picks has remained stronger than ever. (This is the mini-competition that takes place alongside the Piglet, where you select and review a small handful of books that didn’t make it into the main tournament, but that you still thought should get their fair shake.) This past year alone, hundreds of you reached out to us with book ideas, generously offered to test recipes and write detailed reviews of each title, and helped folks discover some of their new favorite cookbooks as a result.

Taking all of this feedback into account, we’ve decided to do things a little differently this year. Starting in February, we’re going to be replacing the Piglet in its existing shape with another type of cookbook competition. Instead of naming the best books of the year, we’re on the hunt for the best cookbooks of all time.

While we’ll give you the full scoop in just a few weeks, the gist is this: We’re going to ask you to nominate your go-to cookbooks in specific categories (say, breadmaking, grilling, Sichuan cuisine, and so on). Then, we’ll identify the five most-nominated books in each category, and ask community members to test through and review all five at once. What we hope will emerge is a series of thoughtful, considered, canonical reviews—and a group of all-star cookbooks that we’ll gladly pile onto our shelves.

We know many of you look forward to the Piglet each spring, and we’re so thankful that you’ve stuck with us for its ten action-packed years. We’re really excited about this new initiative, and can’t wait to kick things off in just a few weeks. We hope you’ll love it as much as we do.

Yours in cookbook appreciation,
The Food52 Team

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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97 Comments

Inga October 24, 2020
I'm quite late to this but like many others have said, I'm really sad to hear that you have discontinued the Piglet. I have bought many books, and learned about many new books I had never heard of, because this tournament. They were also just a joy to read. It sounds like the problems described here (that readers can't find it on the site / miss changes to dates, etc) could be easily fixed through website design?? I hope someone else picks up the baton and starts something similar somewhere else.
 
keg72 September 19, 2020
I landed on this article some 8 months after it was published, after thinking to myself that I’d missed the 2020 Piglet and would love to catch up on it. (And like so many reviewers said, it was always buried on the site, so I was accustomed to having to hunt for it.) I’m disappointed to learn of the Piglet’s demise but also have the same question as the last poster — what happened to the new cookbook contest plan described in the article? And also, why has no one from the site bothered to respond/react to any comments here???
 
Katie July 7, 2020
Was there ever any update on this new cookbook competition that was teased? I couldn't find anything, but with Food52, that doesn't mean it's not there--maybe just buried under promotions of $300 vintage coffee sets.
 
SusanR July 7, 2020
There are still some nice recipes, but this site has mostly become a shop. Sad.
 
Audrey W. June 4, 2020
This is so sad. I'll miss the Piglet a lot. I used to set a reminder on my calendar to go look for it. It wasn't easy to find, but it seemed like recently the articles written to mention it fell off sharply.

I had noticed the sudden upswing on the home page to a majority of shop links and listicles with growing unease, and I've found myself looking to this page less and less.

I hope the new format works out.
 
averything May 20, 2020
Well.....I guess I'm just echoing everyone....but I too miss the piglet. Once each year was up and running I would save up some reviews to sit and read in one go after a long day at work. I have books on my shelf that are there because of the piglet. I loved some reviews and not others & agreed with some outcomes and not others but I really looked forward to it. The fact that people are still commenting in May on the original article is a testament to the feelings of readers. I wonder if there will be a change of heart re: the decision to end it. I for one for love to see it back in 2021.
 
cranberry May 18, 2020
Another vote of disappointment at this news. I love the Piglet. Whatever crazy business decision that shoved it off in a corner ensured its demise. "Let's move it where no one can find it and then when the clicks drop we can kill it and blame it on Food 52 members." Thanks a lot.
 
foodlover April 5, 2020
Now more than ever, we need the Piglet. Please lift our spirits during the crisis by resurrecting the event!
 
ono March 15, 2020
I've been looking for information about The Piglet for a few weeks, and finally had to do an internet search to find this article. I, too, am so very disappointed it has been discontinued – I loved it as well. I thought, initially, some of the harsher comments about some of the reviewers might have influenced an evaluation of The Piglet, but, alas, it was data – too few comments and too few clicks.
I was worried what would happen when the company was sold and wondered what changes would occur. Sadly, among things that others have mentioned, the demise of The Piglet seems to be one of the changes. I’m not against change, of course, but it hurts my heart a little to see a more “streamlined” Food 52. I hope someone will take the leap and resurrect it somewhere else (Omnivore Books in SF?). Also, I thought it was such a wonderful way to celebrate new cookbooks and/or chefs/food writers who would get some attention that they might not otherwise receive – and I loved the food writing. Ah, the writing! Sigh. At any rate, it does feel like there has been a shift, which is not uncommon when companies change hands, but still. I appreciate being able to comment - thank you - despite finding this so much later than the article was published.
 
foodlover March 14, 2020
I rarely take the time to comment on any posts for Food52 or other sites. However, I want to express my profound disappointment at the decision to change the Piglet. The Piglet is an event I look forward to every year, devouring every word with as much gusto as a favorite dish. Just because people are not commenting doesn't mean they aren't talking about the Piglet. I have sung the praises of the Piglet to every food and cookbook lover I know, recommending tournament cookbooks and buying several myself. Not every event needs to be discussed and debated digitally. It would have helped significantly if you took the time to promote the Piglet rather than burying it in the depths of your website where only the most persistent of us could find it. Sadly, you took away the one element that made Food52 stand out from other websites. Now you are just a recipe and eCommerce site like all the others with no compelling reason to visit or remain loyal to.
 
debra K. March 14, 2020
One hundred percent agree.
 
SusanR March 14, 2020
Thank you! This comment expressed my feeling so much better than I did below. I used to come to Food52 to look at your columns. Sunday’s I would always look for the 8 Blogs you posted about. Honestly, it feels like there is less food writing now and more a site I cannot afford to shop on. Definitely most of the emails I receive by far are about products to buy vs new ideas in good, recipes, genius ideas. Makes me sad.
 
Greg B. March 14, 2020
Couldn't be more disappointed.

And to replace it with an "all time" cookbook review simply means this can't be done again the following year.

You ruined something unique that made you special. That's usually because you caved to the tyranny of a few voices.
 
529hh July 14, 2020
I wholeheartedly agree with all of you. Food52 has become a over-commercialized sink-hole. Once they kick Kristen Miglore and Genius Recipes to the curb, the site will be a worthless Goop knock-off.
 
srossi March 11, 2020
Really disappointed with this news. If I wanted reviews of older cookbooks, I would look elsewhere. The yearly roundup of new cookbook reviews via the Piglet was one of the few things that kept me occasionally checking back in on this website. What a bummer. I hope Food52 will instead strengthen it's reviews of new cookbooks elsewhere on the site, rather than through a tournament form.
 
SusanR March 3, 2020
This is very, very disappointing. I have been looking so forward to this year’s competition. I am hoping the upcoming competition will be as interesting and informative.
 
Inko March 2, 2020
Like so many others I looked forward to Piglet all year. Searched for it seasonally - and wondered every year why you made it so hard to find. Enjoyed the goofy reviews and the earnest reviews and even the snarky non-cooking reviews. And now you’re ending it instead of making it more visible on the website? Bad decision.
Food 52 is now a retail shopping site for curated cookware - no thanks. I’m gone.
I’m not interested.
 
Ktc1575 March 2, 2020
I’m so disappointed! I look forward to the Piglet all year long! I hope you’ll reconsider for the future!
 
erosenbr March 1, 2020
I'm very disappointed that this is being discontinued. I love the Piglet tournament and I enjoy it every year. I never weigh in because I hate online discussions and have a feeling many are exhausted with online conversation but it's not a signifier that they're not enjoying the content. More a signifier that online discussion has become tiring to many. Not necessarily a sign of disengagement. I don't think it should be the main barometer for decisions.
 
cookbookchick March 1, 2020
My initial reaction on the first day you posted this disappointing development still stands: Boo-hiss! As others have said much more eloquently, the Piglet introduced us to new cookbooks we might have overlooked. It also gave rise to some really outstanding food writing. And the controversies? Well, they sure added spice to our daily Piglet fix and gave rise to some great reading in the comments.
 
Joanie922 February 26, 2020
This is incredibly disappointing. You reviewed new cookbooks and the reviews gave life to a new book.

If I want a review on a cookbook I probably already own, I search it out somewhere other than Food52.

I feel the move into home furnishing is the beginning of moving away from what made this company so unique - a company that was about food and sharing recipes with a community. Now, I feel as Food52 is trying to be a retailer.
 
Kimi February 23, 2020
I stumbled onto the piglet 4 years ago. It was hard to find but I did and I read all prior Piglets and waited in anticipation of the next year. I have purchased so many of the cookbooks. None of the cookbook were losers. I loved how someone had to make a choice from disperate books. I.loved the agony they felt in choosing, it's the same agony I feel when buying one books and it was often the loser that I bought because I'd it. I loved how I learned more about the judge, and it somehow made both the book and the reviewer so much more accessible. I rarely read comments because on most things they are angry or dont add anything to further the conversation; I read all the comments. The comments as much as the judge made it feel like a real community and added to the experience. The Piglet has inspired me to try new genres.

I am disappointed. I truly hope the new format will be a success, but I mourn the Piglet.
 
witloof February 22, 2020
I am really disappointed by this decision, and by Food52 in general lately. The soul has been eviscerated from this website.
 
mrslarkin February 20, 2020
In case you missed it: https://food52.com/blog/24999-big-community-book-off-cookbook-competition-announcement
 
boulangere February 21, 2020
In case?!?!?!
 
mrslarkin February 21, 2020
Right? LOLOLOL!
 
Leil February 18, 2020
I’m really sad about this change to the Piglet. Even though I thought it was hard to find in the website and I had to search it out, I did every year because I loved it so much. i never understood why it was so hard to find or why you never sent out notices about it. I loved the subjectivity of it, the reviews whether thoughtful or not, and learning about books I might never have picked up. I am also not interested in all time cookbooks. That’s completely different from looking at current books. I wish you could have done both of you wanted this other thing. These awards were so much more transparent than other awards and I loved that, as well as that not all these people were experts in their area.