The Simpsons Christmas Special debuted on 12/17/1989, and I was there. On the couch, I mean. Watched it, laughed and loved it — and especially loved the teaser that ran during one of the commercial breaks, announcing that the gang wasn’t stopping with a mere one-off, but was soon to bloom into a weekly series. (Little did I know that it should have been a series by the time the Christmas special aired, but that’s a long story.)
I was a huge Simpsons fan even before the special. I gutted through every episode of The Tracy Ullman Show waiting for my prehistoric Bart shorts, thinking they were cooler, edgier and more hilarious than anything I’d ever seen. Now that I think about it, staying glued to Fox for those Simpsons shorts is the reason why I am only person alive who can sing the complete theme song to Open House.
This entry isn’t about Simpsons history or my early obsession with the series, or even about the Christmas special as a whole. It’s about that one scene within it. The one with the squeaking pork chop.
Think about all of the Christmas movies, Christmas specials and random Christmas-themed television episodes you’ve seen. Within those stories, you’ve seen many fictitious characters receive lots of great presents. Perhaps you’ve had a few favorites. I know I did. Rand Peltzer’s gift of Gizmo, from Gremlins, tops the list. Then there’s the zeppelin replica from A Christmas Story. And the robot Santa Claus genie machine from the the beginning of A Garfield Christmas.
Further down the list: The squeaking pork chop from The Simpsons Christmas Special. Not as impressive as mogwais or zeppelins, but oh so much easier to obtain. This is its story. The story of a pork chop dog toy.
In the episode, Homer volunteers to shop for the family’s Christmas gifts, so Marge won’t learn that his standard Christmas bonus check was discontinued. On the hunt for cheap presents, he visits the “Circus of Values,” a store blending elements from every Dollar Tree and Jembro that you’ve ever visited.
Pushing a creaking cart and rationalizing his shitty gift choices (pantyhose and legal pads), Homer turns his attention to Maggie’s present, ending up at a large display of crummy dog toys. There, he grabs it. The one. The only. The squeaking pork chop.
It’s going to be tough to explain why, but for me, something clicked. I fell in love. I wanted that dog toy. I completely and totally accepted it as a valid Christmas gift. Maybe it was the neat little polybag it came in, which Homer gently ripped open. Maybe it was the pork chop itself. A perfect replica. One that squeaked.
This wasn’t a major plot point. The pork chop was in and out. Somehow, I’ve never forgotten it. Not once in over twenty damned years. Every time my eyes drift in a pet store, they’re looking for a squeaking pork chop. Every time I’m about to skip the pet aisle in a supermarket because I don’t need bird seed or Alpo, I make the left turn anyway.
What was it about that thing that seemed so magical? Despite the scene’s meaning, I actually found myself envying the Simpson children for their upcoming gifts of pads and, god yes, squeaking meat.
I could psychoanalyze myself, but what’s more important: Finding out why I like squeaking pork chops, or owning squeaking pork chops?
It is every bit as incredible as I’ve imagined. It’s bright, it’s tasteful, and when I squish it, it sounds like a retarded bird. I love it. I don’t even care that it might be a normal steak and not a pork chop.
And sure, I would’ve preferred my squeaking pork chop to arrive polybagged like Homer’s did, but for what it’s worth, that’s a great tag. It has Lassie on it. Its company logo looks like a sign for a Chinese food restaurant, right down to “Pet King” being so ridiculously similar to “Peking.” Everything about this pork chop is perfect.
Is it the best Christmas present ever fabricated by the entertainment industry? No, but it’s the best one that I can find at a dollar store. Gizmo will never be mine, and if I want that vintage zeppelin, I’ll need to bid something like eighty thousand dollars on eBay. Sometimes, we have to adjust our dreams so they’re capable of achieving. Or maybe I just really do like this squeaking pork chop more than anything else, ever.
There’s no moral to this story. I had no end goal in mind. I just really like the squeaking pork chop, and I wanted to say so.
Long live it. It being the chop.
Harley u so cute.