The Strange Case of the Utah Tongans

 

The situation of the Utah Tongans is worth passing interest.  It seems so unreal one could almost imagine it were a modern myth.  However that does not seem to be the case.

 

This interesting story is recorded by Simoons in his book "Eat not this Flesh" and he cites as his source of evidence the reputable Wall Street Journal.  It would seem that there are around some 7,500 Tongan émigrés living in Utah, and the majority of them Mormons.  They have a penchant for eating horseflesh, which they claim they were introduced to by Christian missionaries in their native land (seems strange?).

 

The horses are purchased to eat from local knacker yards and because of this the Tongans became the butt of jokes and ridicule in the areas that they lived.  M and R meat packing company in Connecticut, which already dealt in horsemeat for the pet trade and overseas markets realised it could make a good deal by arranging to pre-pack and sell horse meat to Tongans over the counter in Harman's supermarkets in Ogden, Utah.  Horsemeat sold well and quickly, and Tongans were glad to be able to buy their meat ready packed.

 

However, the story made national headlines, and public opinion elsewhere was outraged.  Horse lovers protested outside Harman's stores by all over America. Harman's were forced to stop selling horsemeat and the Tongans returned to buying and butchering their own carcasses.  Although there was a good market for the product and a packer and marketer willing and able to sell, public outcry stopped the sale. 

 

A strange story.  Do Tongans in Utah still eat horse?

 

Reference

 

Simoons, F.J.,  1994,  Eat not this Flesh, Food Avoidances from Pre-history to Present,  University of Wisconsin Press.