The meat-lovers in eastern North Carolina clearly like to go large with their 'cue endeavors. A number of places offer up whole hog barbecue—which is pretty much exactly what the name would suggest. Gather a lot of people (up to 125 folks can eat off of one pig), and everyone gets to dig into a hog that's been smoking up to 18 hours or so. "That's just the coolest," declares Gelin. "It doesn't get much better than that."
If the event is casual and everyone is among friends, it can be served up as a "pig pickin'," which is pretty much every man, woman and child for themselves as the crowd starts feasting on the hog just as it comes out of the cooker. But if the occasion is a bit more refined, the kitchen can chop up the meat for you (which should keep your survival-of-the-fittest instincts more properly in check). It's not the easiest smoking process to go through, but sometimes when you gotta have a whole hog, you just gotta have a whole hog.