How to say "We don't have any pickled pigs' feet"

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I have a terrible hankering for pickled pigs' feet and have been to about a dozen stores in the Philadelphia area looking for a bottle of them.  So far no luck.

But I'm learning a lot about how store personnel tell me they don't have any.

Mostly, of course, they just say, "No(, we don't have any)".

If they're not sure, they usually say (regretfully), "I don't think we have any."

Today, however, I received the same answer four times in one store, "(It's possible) we may / might not have any" — as they walked me around to different parts of the store looking for the pickled pigs' feet.

I'll try Walmart next.  They often have exotic things, soul food and what not, that you would normally not expect from such a proletarian megamarket — or maybe that's precisely why they have them.

P.S.:  Yes, we have no pickled pigs' feet.


Selected readings


  1. S Frankel said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 9:59 am

    To be fair, terrible does seem like the right kind of hankering to have for pigs feet.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 10:08 am

    Who / what are you being "fair" to?

  3. Mary Sweeten said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 10:24 am

    Try Netcost.

  4. Mary Sweeten said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 10:25 am

    Or Riekers.

  5. S Frankel said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 11:47 am

    @Victor Mair – Well, the one with the most flesh in the game is the pig.

  6. Victor Mair said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 12:16 pm

    @S Frankel

    Have you never had a powerful, overwhelming hankering for a particular food that was hard to obtain?

  7. Victor Mair said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 1:01 pm

    @Mary Sweeten

    I love Netcost. Went up there a few weeks ago looking for pickled pigs' feet but couldn't find any. Maybe I was looking in the wrong parts of the store.

    Thanks for the tip about Riekers. Looks promising. I'll go there the next time I go to Netcost and my favorite Uzbekistan restaurant (they have excellent cherry compot and many tasty Central Asian and Russian dishes), since they all seem to be in the same part of Philadelphia.

    That's after I try Walmart and then Linvilla again, where I used to get pickled pigs' feet years ago.

  8. S Frankel said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 2:25 pm

    @Victor Mair –
    No, I meant the one with *literally* the most flesh in the game is the pig. For what it's worth, I've seen pickled pigs' feet at Amish stands; don't know if there are any in Philly. What's your favorite Uzbeki restaurant? This would be useful for those of us who sometimes pass through Philly.

  9. CuConnacht said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 3:22 pm

    And now I have the same hankering. Let us know how you do at Walmart.

  10. julie lee said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 4:13 pm

    Amazon seems to have pickled pigs feet in a jar.

    In "Grocery and Goumet Food" section online.

  11. AntC said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 4:35 pm

    A variety of ways for a shopkeeper to say 'we are out of stock of the advertised product'.

  12. Bloix said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 5:11 pm

    To be fair …

  13. DMcCunney said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 7:13 pm

    Just for the record, pickled pigs feet happen to be an old East European dish, so Chinese markets may not be the best place to look. Pickled beets are another East European dish, and likely produced by the same folks pickling the pigs feet,

    Walmart may actually have both,


  14. Victor Mair said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 8:22 pm


    Thanks for steering the conversation back toward modes of negation, which is what this post started out to be about.


    The Letterkenny video perfectly captures the spirit of "to be fair". So funny!

    @everybody who gave me tips about where I might find pickled pigs' feet

    I'll check 'em out one by one and will let you know when I actually get hold of a bottle.

  15. Arthur Baker said,

    September 24, 2022 @ 12:47 am

    Are pickled pigs' feet the feet of pickled pigs or the pickled feet of pigs? I have to say I'm not all that desperate for an answer here because, whichever way it is, I think I'd have to be very VERY hungry to eat them.

  16. Nat said,

    September 24, 2022 @ 2:12 am

    Sorry, but what do the parentheticals indicate in the quotes? Intonation? sub voce comments? inferred speaker meaning?

  17. Philip Taylor said,

    September 24, 2022 @ 2:32 am

    Two different usages, as far as I can see — in "No(, we don't have any)" and "(It's possible) we may / might not have any", they appear to indicate an element which is not consistently included, whereas in « (regretfully), "I don't think we have any" », they appear to indicate the manner of speech.

  18. Victor Mair said,

    September 24, 2022 @ 5:40 am

    Philip Taylor understood perfectly. The parenthetical portions are optional / alternative.

    Good question, Nat! Good answer, Philip!

    Thanks to both of you.

  19. Jerry Packard said,

    September 24, 2022 @ 9:09 am

    Pickled pigs' feet — which are not the feet of pickled pigs — were usually in a glass jar in my fridge as a child, happily consumed by my dad and on occasion yours truly. In those days they were widely available in supermarkets under brands such as Hormel or Armour, along with pickled cow tongue, and indeed aren't not delicious!

  20. Victor Mair said,

    September 24, 2022 @ 10:11 am

    Jerry's right. Same thing in our house and in our local supermarkets. My Mom and Dad both (but especially my Mom) loved pickled pigs feet / hocks / tongue, and we kids would occasionally partake.

    I think that Hormel and Armour brands are still available, so I hope that I can get them, because they were of good quality, though the Amish brand I got at Linvilla once years ago was also good, as you would imagine.

  21. Coby said,

    September 24, 2022 @ 10:12 am

    Have you thought of putting "pickled pigs' feet philadelphia" into a search engine? I just did, and plenty of ads showed up.

  22. Victor Mair said,

    September 24, 2022 @ 12:05 pm

    Thanks for the tip, Coby. I tried that, but every place I followed up led to deadends.

    I will systematically proceed according to the plan outlined in the comments above.

  23. Y said,

    September 24, 2022 @ 3:06 pm

    "You sure you no like pickled pigs' feet? You sure you sure?"

  24. TKMair said,

    September 24, 2022 @ 7:19 pm

    If your liking of pigs feet is not something new, it was previously unknown to me. I think I have some clear memories of you NOT liking another animal's feet for a comestible (chicken claws). So if it's new I am guessing your body is looking for some special mammalian feet nourishing essence since your tough dogs get a lot of work! Not surprised at all that you'd be overcome with an overwhelming hankering for a certain thing, that's bona fide VMair…

  25. David Morris said,

    September 24, 2022 @ 8:11 pm

    I have often pondered the difference between 'I don't think it will rain' and 'I think it won't rain', with no firm conclusions. Those transfer as 'I don't think we have any' and 'I think we don't have any'.

  26. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    September 25, 2022 @ 4:55 am


    Pickled pigs feet have been prepared and consumed in England for centuries, although from Tudor times onward for a while the pickling was a brine solution without vinegar, although it may have included spices. Miscellaneous pig parts such as cheeks, the snout, and ears may have been similarly preserved.

    Using and preserving every bit of the pig, from bristles and skin to organs, feet, and hams was a practice in numerous places where pigs were raised for food. An interesting look at this aspect of food history is Pickled, Potted and Canned, by Sue Shephard.

    When I have seen references to pickled pigs feet in books written or set in Britain, often the term used is “trotters” instead of “feet.”

  27. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    September 25, 2022 @ 5:03 am

    @VMair —

    No one said “Let me check. We may be able to order them.” or “No, we wouldn’t have them.”? Those are among the answers I have received when asking about difficult-to-find foods.

  28. Michael Watts said,

    September 25, 2022 @ 5:04 am

    Well, the syntactic difference is straightforward; "I don't think it will rain" has the negation on the outer clause, being the negated form of "I think it will rain", whereas "I think it won't rain" has the negation scoped to the embedded clause – "it will rain" is negated, and the result is slotted into the positive-polarity statement "I think _____".

    There is no difference in meaning unless someone wants to be very careful about distinguishing a lack of any opinion from having an opinion.

    This is an example of a more general phenomenon in English where negations that should, semantically, be narrow in scope are nevertheless marked syntactically at a broader level than that.

  29. Philip Taylor said,

    September 25, 2022 @ 5:19 am

    If I were to state "I don't think it will rain", I would be mentally putting P (the probability of it raining) at less than 0.5; if, on the other hand, I were to state "I think it won't rain", my mental model of P would be less, maybe closer to 0.2

  30. Martha said,

    September 25, 2022 @ 11:59 am

    To me, "I think it won't rain"/"I think we don't have any" shows greater certainty than "I don't think…"

    "I think it won't rain" is "My prediction is that it won't rain," while "I don't think it will rain" can mean the same thing or "I'm not sure whether it will rain, but I'm leaning toward it not." Likewise, "I think we don't have any" is "I can't say for certain, but I'm pretty sure we don't have any."

  31. Andreas Johansson said,

    September 26, 2022 @ 3:40 am

    Like Philip and Martha, I feel putting the negation in the embedded close suggests higher confidence.

  32. Jonathan Smith said,

    September 26, 2022 @ 8:21 am

    To the extent "NEG-raising" is a thing, then no systematic semantic difference between such pairs will exist…?

    …"I don't think [clause]" generally corresponds to e.g. "wo juede 我觉得 [negative clause]" in Mandarin… the "non-raised" Eng. and the "raised" Mand. versions (often tried by Eng. speaking learners) are not exactly defective but often merit at least a "?"

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