A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 24, 2013
Pig Pickin’ Cake

"Pig Pickin’s Cake” has been cited in print since at least March 1975, when The Robesonian (Lumberton, NC) stated, “The hostesses served ‘pig-picking’ cake, so named because of its inclusion in barbecue menus, with coffee and mixed nuts.” Pig Pickin’ Cake is usually made with yellow cake mix, eggs, and mandarin oranges with juice; the icing often is made of Cool Whip, a small package of vanilla instant pudding, and crushed pineapples.

The book Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue (2008) stated:

“Everyone seems to have a recipe for ‘pig pickin’ cake,’ but no one knows where it originated. We’d bet the name started in North Carolina, though maybe not the cake itself, which is a cousin of pineapple dream cake.”


6 March 1975, The Robesonian (Lumberton, NC), “Women’s Club,” pg. 14, col. 7:
The hostesses served “pig-picking” cake, so named because of its inclusion in barbecue menus, with coffee and mixed nuts.

Google News Archive
23 May 1975, The Robesonian (Lumberton, NC), pg. 8, col. 2:
The speciality of “The Warrior Inn” was Pig Picking Cake (pineapple).

Google News Archive
28 August 1975, The Dispatch (Lexington, NC), “Ramblings” by Helen Linder, pg. 6, col. 2:
Want another unusual recipe. This one came from down in the eastern part of the state...from the grandmother of my son-in-law Bob Hill...Mrs. E. T. Pittman, who lives in Whitakers.

Pick Picking Cake
1 package Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Cake Mix
1/4 cup oil
4 eggs
(...)
Icing
1 (9 oz.) carton of Cool Whip
1 small package vanilla instant pudding
2 cups sweetened strawberries with juice OR a No. 2 can crushed pineapples with juice.

20 November 1977. Marietta (GA) Journal, pg. 28E, col. 2:
Pig Pickin’ Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges
4 eggs
1/2 c. cooking oil
(...)
Frosting:
1 carton (9 oz.) frozen whipped cream
1 can (No. 2) crushed pineapple
1 sm. box instant vanilla pudding

9 May 1976, Greensboro (NC) Daily News, “Recipe Swap: Swap Friends Share, Say Thanks,” pg. E4, col. 1:
LUCY SHIRLEY of Willow Road sent in some of her favorite recipes to share. Several of them have been used fairly recently in one column or the other, but two of them are timely and interesting. One is for strawberry pie, and it is that time, and another for a cake I have never heard of before (and I have heard of a good number). It’s Pig Picking Cake.
(...) (Col. 2—ed.)
PIG PICKING CAKE
1 box butter cake mix
2 tablespoons diet margarine
4 eggs
1 can mandarin oranges and juice
1/2 cup salad oil
(...)
1 large can crushed pineapple with juice
1 box instant vanilla pudding
1 large container whipped topping
Few drops past food color, if desired

Google News Archive
28 April 1979, Wilmington (NC) Morning Star, Fashions, Food Draw Crowd” by Debra Furr, pg. 7-A, col. 2
Beautifully decorated with winding garlands of flowers, the lawn was dotted with tables laden with everything from spinach balls to pig pickin’ cake.
(Col. 5—ed.)
PIG PICKIN’ CAKE
1 box butter cake mix
1 teaspoon vanilla’
1 can mandarin oranges with juice
3 eggs
1/2 cup cooking oil

Google Books
Holy Smoke:
The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue

By John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed, with William McKinney
Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press
2008
Pg. 190:
Everyone seems to have a recipe for “pig pickin’ cake,” but no one knows where it originated. We’d bet the name started in North Carolina, though maybe not the cake itself, which is a cousin of pineapple dream cake.

Serious Eats
Weekend Baking Project: Pig Pickin’ Cake
Carrie Vasios
May 24, 2013
4:30 PM
Get out your whites, your grill mitts, and your beer cooler—it’s Memorial Day weekend! What better way to end your first big outdoor meal than with this classic Southern picnic cake?

While the traditional recipe for Pig Pickin’ Cake calls for boxed yellow cake mix, mandarin oranges, instant vanilla pudding, crushed pineapple, and Cool Whip, we’ve done it all from scratch so that the moist cake remains but the boxed mix gets the boot.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Friday, May 24, 2013 • Permalink