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Why Is Pulled Pork Called Pulled Pork? An Interesting Insight

Norah Clark
Pulled pork on a board

Pulled pork is a popular BBQ dish enjoyed by many, but have you ever wondered why is pulled pork called pulled pork?

In this article, we’ll explore the history and science behind this delicious and tender meat!

What Is Pulled Pork?

To understand why it’s called pulled pork, we first need to understand the “pulling” process in cooking.

Pulling is a method of shredding meat using forks or tongs, and it’s been used in cooking for centuries. It was particularly popular in dishes like “pulled beef” and “pulled chicken.”

The term “pulled pork” emerged as a common term for the dish in the 20th century, likely due to its popularity in Southern BBQ cuisine.

BBQ has a long and storied history in the United States, with roots in Native American and African American cuisine.

Pork became a popular meat for BBQ in the 1800s, due in part to its affordability and abundance. Pulled pork specifically emerged as a popular dish in the South, where whole hogs were traditionally slow-cooked over an open flame.

The meat would then be shredded using the pulling method and served with a variety of sauces and sides.

Pulled pork is a popular dish that can be served warm or can be eaten cold.

Today, there are many regional variations and traditions surrounding pulled pork, from North Carolina’s vinegar-based sauce to Memphis’ dry-rubbed style.

The Science Behind Pulled Pork

The key to delicious and tender pulled pork lies in the science of cooking. Pork shoulder, also known as pork butt, is a tough cut of meat with a lot of collagen and connective tissue.

When cooked low and slow, the heat and moisture break down these tough proteins and convert them into gelatin, which gives the meat a tender and juicy texture.

The ideal temperature for cooking pulled pork is around 225-250°F, and it can take anywhere from 8-12 hours depending on the size of the meat. You can easily reheat pulled pork and freeze pulled pork.

It’s important to let the meat rest before pulling it, as this allows the juices to redistribute and keep the meat moist.

Cultural Significance of Pulled Pork

Pulled pork isn’t just a delicious BBQ dish – it’s also a cultural icon with deep roots in Southern cuisine. In South America, pulled pork is a staple food for large gatherings of people, family reunions, and celebrations of all kinds.

Pulled pork is often associated with American BBQ culture and traditions, and it’s one of the most popular BBQ dishes in the United States.

Read our article on the best BBQ sauces for pulled pork for an insight to out how much variety you have when putting pulled pork on the grill or barbeque!

However, its popularity isn’t limited to the South, as people across the country enjoy this savory and tender meat.

Linguistic and Etymological Considerations

The term “pulled pork” is a curious one, and its linguistic roots can tell us a lot about the dish’s history and evolution.

The term likely emerged in the 20th century, as BBQ became more popular in the United States. It’s possible that the term “pulled” was used because of the method of shredding the meat with forks or tongs, as we discussed earlier.

It’s also possible that the term has roots in African American cuisine, where the term “pull” was sometimes used to describe the process of cooking meat until it was tender enough to be easily pulled apart.

Variations and Adaptations of Pulled Pork

Pulled pork has become popular in many different cultures and cuisines, and as a result, there are countless variations and adaptations of this classic dish.

In some parts of the world, pulled pork is served with different spices and sauces, which can change the flavor and texture of the meat.

For example, in Mexico, pulled pork is often seasoned with cumin and chili powder, and it’s served in tacos or burritos.

In the Philippines, pulled pork is called “lechon” and it’s seasoned with a combination of soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic.


In conclusion, pulled pork is a delicious and tender BBQ dish with a rich history and science behind it.

Whether you’re a BBQ enthusiast or just a fan of good food, pulled pork is definitely worth trying.

Remember to cook low and slow and let the meat rest before pulling it for optimal flavor and texture. Now you should know why pulled pork is called pulled pork – enjoy!

Profile Image Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, Editor of Boyd Hampers! Norah is a food writer with over a decade of experience in hospitality as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista; former chef at the Savoy Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Plaza Hotel.

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