American Diabetes Assn. holds 'Kiss -A-Pig' fundraiser

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Wilbur, Arnold, Piglet. Miss Piggy, Porky, Petunia. The Three Little Pigs. They are pigs (and piglets) people have loved for decades. However, with the exception of the precocious Miss Piggy (who knows exactly what she was selling), there is little documentation of people actually paying money to kiss a pig.

Generally, people tend to eat them. You have the pig-in-a-blanket, the BLT, Thanksgiving hams. Sausage links and pig roasted over a pit in a luau.

But meet Junior, a Vietnamese potbellied pig that purportedly eats up the human attention, rather than the other way around. He has contracted with the American Diabetes Association to help generate funds to find a cure for diabetes.

So, here’s the gig: The ADA correctly reasoned that people probably do not have a great desire to pucker for a pig. Nevertheless, they might pay to see someone else do the deed.

Thus, the ADA’s Kiss-A-Pig campaign was born. It is a fundraising event held in conjunction with 70 Albertson’s and Grocery Warehouse stores in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and New Mexico.

Just like in Chicago, people can buy votes. The store manager with the most votes must kiss Junior. Votes are available in denominations of $1 and $5 – one buck equals one vote, and again, just like in Chicago, people are encouraged to vote – and more than once.

That answers the question of why one would kiss a pig. There remains the issue of exactly how one would pucker for the porcine, and where, exactly, to plant it, neither of which were addressed in ADA literature.

The good news here, said the American Diabetes Association, is that the pig “is not in any danger – he actually enjoys all the attention.”

Bad puns aside, 100 percent of the funds generated will go to the ADA.

“We are constantly trying to come up with new and exciting ways for the community to become involved in helping us to achieve our mission – to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes,” said Carol Fredrickson, area manager for the American Diabetes Association.

She said the Kiss-A-Pig event is one of its most successful fundraisers, and that “this promises to be a down and dirty, mudslinging campaign that is wild, zany and comical.”

The contest runs through November.

Actually, pigs had a big role in helping people control their diabetes. Diabetes results when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, which is a chain of amino acids.

In 1921, researchers discovered insulin extracted from pigs and cows could be used in treating the disease, and scientists found that pork insulin is nearly identical to that made by the human pancreas, differing in just a single amino acid.

While recent advances in medicine yielded new methods of producing insulin artificially, it all started with the pig.