What Is Piggly Wiggly (Besides a Very Silly Name for a Grocery Store)?

One easy way to tell where someone grew up is to ask them what grocery stores they went to as a kid. For me, the answer is Market Basket, Shaw’s, and Stop & Shop, which means that I grew up in New England. For my girlfriend, the answer is Jewel, Sunset, and Dominick’s, which means she grew up in the Chicagoland area. But increasingly, conglomerates buy up these regional grocery stores so there are fewer companies owning grocery stores than ever before. Still, at least in name, they retain their unique provincial charm.

And it’s a good thing they do, because some of their names are delightful. Two of my favorites are Giant Eagle, a chain in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the multistate chain Food Lion, because both are particularly ferocious-sounding names for a place where you pick up 1% milk and frozen chicken nuggets. But of all the odd sounding grocery store names, the crown jewel has to be Piggly Wiggly. 

What is Piggly Wiggly? 

Piggly Wiggly, a name that rhymes and has the words “pig” and “wiggle” in it, is a supermarket chain with the claim to fame that it’s “America’s first true self-service grocery store.” Its mascot is, befittingly, a pig wearing a little paper hat like an old-timey grocer would wear. The fine folks at Piggly Wiggly have realized that their mascot is rather cute and you can purchase a slew of merchandise featuring this pink fella. 

Is Piggly Wiggly owned by Kroger?

It’s easy to understand why you might think this. However, while Kroger Co. has an impressive portfolio of stores to its name including Baker’s, Food4Less, Mariano’s, King Soopers, and Ralph’s, Piggly Wiggly is not among them. 

So, who owns Piggly Wiggly?

Piggly Wiggly is owned by a company called C & S Wholesale Grocers. According to their website, “C&S Wholesale Grocers, LLC is an industry leader in supply chain solutions and wholesale grocery supply in the United States. Founded in 1918 as a supplier to independent grocery stores, C&S now services customers of all sizes, supplying more than 7,500 independent supermarkets, chain stores, military bases and institutions with over 100,000 different products.”  

Where are Piggly Wiggly stores?

While it’s historically been associated with the South, Piggly Wiggly stores are now all over the place. They have stores in 18 states, specifically Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

Where did Piggly Wiggly start? 

As the Piggly Wiggly website notes, “Piggly Wiggly, America’s first true self-service grocery store, was founded in Memphis, Tennessee in 1916 by Clarence Saunders.” When they say “true self-service grocery store,” they mean a store in which shoppers could actually select their own groceries. In the days of yesteryear, people used to give their orders to grocery clerks who would collect the items from the shelves and package it all up. Piggly Wiggly claims to be the first grocery store to allow folks to shop for themselves, saving the customers’ time and the business’s money. 

That’s Piggly Wiggly 101. Be sure to scope them out if you’re near one of their locations!

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.