The Pork Pie Hat – How Did It Get Its Name?

Most hats have regular names that are easy to remember, such as the baseball cap. On the other hand, a select few classic hats have unique names, such as the pork pie hat. But how did it get its name? 

The pork pie hat was named after a popular pork-filled pastry in the late nineteenth century called the Melton Mowbray pork pie. The hat adopted the pastry’s name due to the similarities of appearance. The pork pie hat has a lip on the outside of the crown, which resembles the pastry’s crust.  

Whether you are a fashionista wanting to learn more about classic hats or somebody who is just plain curious, the name of this particular hat can spark curiosity in anybody. This article will describe what a pork pie hat is, when the hat came into existence, and how the pork pie hat got its name.

Old worn trumpet against grungy wall with pork pie style top hat

Pork Pie Hat Explained

A pork pie hat is often mistaken for a fedora. Unlike the fedora, a pork pie hat has a flat crown with brims that are turned up. This hat style became popular in the mid-nineteenth century, and both men and women would wear it. While the hat has been going in and out of style for a number of decades, celebrities of this generation have started sporting them (Justin Timberlake, for example). If you’re looking for an affordable pork pie hat this cotton herringbone option is very popular on Amazon.

The Inventor of Pork Pie Hat Is Unknown

The pork pie hat first appeared in the mid-nineteenth century in Britain. In the period between 1830 and 1865, the hat was very prominent in women’s fashion. A ribbon or hatband was usually wrapped around the area between the brim and the crown. 

Nineteenth-century fashion was a very distinct era. Everyday wardrobes of higher class citizens included corsets, petticoats, bustles, and top hats. Women wore full skirts while many men wore double-breasted coats with tails. 

Although it is unknown who first invented the hat, Buster Keaton was the silent film actor in the 1920s who made the pork pie hat known again. He wanted to make a sturdy hat to accommodate his style of acting. 

The way he did this was by taking fedoras and hardening their brims with a solution of sugar-water. Throughout his acting career, he kept making the hats himself as they either got taken by fans or destroyed in the scenes he was filming. 

The Hat Is Named After Melton Mowbray Pork Pie

It won’t come as a surprise that the hat was named after a pork pie. Melton Mowbray pork pie is a delicious pastry. It is filled with small, cut up pieces of pork fat and pork and has a jellied pork layer surrounding the filling. It is finished with a water-based golden crust. The pastry is a small circular shape and has a flat top with a high crust. 

You could spot pork pies in every bakery in the nineteenth century. Many men would eat pork pie while on their seasonal hunting trips since they were a quick and delicious meal. 

Most pork pie hats have a small lip on the top of the crown, as featured below. People thought that the hat resembled the pastry, so it adopted the name. 

The Pork Pie Hat Has Another Name

Even though pork pie is the most well-known name for the fashion piece, people also call it the English pastry hat. 

People drew so many similarities between the hat and pastries because bakeries were a staple shop in the mid-nineteenth century (much like they are today) and were very common in towns and cities.

Even in the nineteenth century, the concept of ‘fast food’ was a thing. Bakers learned how to mass bake pastries and would fill their shelves with all sorts of things. Since the Melton Mowbray pork pie pastry was very popular, it is easy to see how the names became popular. 

Who Wore the Pork Pie Hat?

As mentioned previously, the pork pie hat was popular with women in the mid-nineteenth century. But who wore it when it got popular again? After Buster Keaton reintroduced the hat in his wardrobe, the fashion piece quickly grew in popularity. 

The hat was particularly popular in the 1930s during the Great Depression among college students. Soon after, famous celebrities of the time started to sport them, such as Fred Astaire and other musicians and Hollywood stars. 

The hat was also known as a casual piece to wear to sporting events such as golf and horse racing. The design also changed a bit during this period. While the brims were still turned up, the crown became a bit taller. Discover more intriguing facts about the pork pie hat here.

In Summary

The pork pie hats have a similar look to a fedora but have turned up brims and flat crowns. The style can differ from hat to hat when it comes to the width of the brim and height of the crown. Nowadays, they have higher crowns than they did in the late nineteenth century. 

Pork pie hats are known for their name. During the time the hat was popular in the fashion scene in the 1800s, bakeries lined the streets of towns and cities with windows showcasing delicious pastries. One popular pastry was the Melton Mowbray pork pie. It resembled the hat so much so that it was named after the pastry.

Pork pie hats have a lip on the edge of the crown, which resembles the crust of the pork pies.