In the center of Philadelphia’s venerable Reading Terminal Market is a three-foot-tall, 225-pound pig. But this isn’t any ordinary hog.
Philbert the Pig (named after an adjacent street) is the unofficial mascot of the market and the Philly Food Trust, an organization that fights hunger in Philadelphia. This life-size piggy bank was designed by Eric Berg and is the source of the local expression “meet me at the pig,” as Philbert is arguably the most famous pig in Philadelphia.
The pig statue is used as a coin funnel: plop a donation in its mouth, and the money will pass through his system and into a glass box. The donations are then given to a different charity each month, with the charities ranging from the Food Trust itself to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
Philbert’s good for more than just passing money. The pig’s raised, smiling snout is considered to be a good luck charm by some. As such, his schnozz is often rubbed for good luck, making it somewhat brighter than the rest of his body. A part of his snout has been touched so much that the patina (the shiny bronze color) has completely worn off, making a portion a deep brown.
The pig became popular with tourists from China after Philadelphia became one of the first registered destinations for the popular Chinese app WeChat. This coincided with the Year of the Pig, which led to an uptick in the statue’s recognition. The pig was also featured in a popular Year of the Pig scavenger hunt, as well as a convention center-sponsored in-app game.