Have you seen a porg yet?
They’re little white and brown creatures that look like a cross between a particularly large hamster and a particularly small penguin. Oh, and they are the absolute cutest.
*Psst* This post may have spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
From the moment they debuted on the trailer for The Last Jedi, they have been an absolute hit. People love them some porgs!
But then again, how can you not? Look at those big eyes, that comic expression whenever they get startled. They’ve even been the subject of quite a few memes.
Also, there’s the fact that Chewbacca hates them. After all, there he was, about to eat a perfectly nicely roasted porg, and like, a ton of them came out the woodworks to guilt him from eating it.
Wait, was that a spoiler?
Anyhoo, back to the porgs. Did you know people fantasize about eating them? Ever since Chewbacca had his almost-taste of porg, people have been like – ooh, I could eat me some porg.
This sentiment is so serious, GQ even explained “All the Best Ways to Cook and Eat a Porg, the Cutest Alien in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” No, we’re not even kidding.
A quick gander at the recipes includes roast porgs, porg rinds, and porg-lette, which is described as an “ideal, protein-rich breakfast for anyone heading off for a long day of Jedi training.”
This particular recipe calls for “three porg eggs, cook[ed] over medium-high heat, and fill[ed] with whatever meats and vegetables you desire.”
If you’re shocked by this aggressively carnivorous instinct to eat a defenseless imaginary creature, don’t be. As one professor explained to The Verge,
There is a strong response to cuteness that involves the suggestion of eating the cute being. My guess would be that people are… playing on that initial impulse to exclaim something about wanting to eat [them up], and taking that impulse to the next step for effect. I do not think people are actually wishing that this is a new source of protein.
But where do porgs come from? We know that they’re native to the planet Ahch-To, where curmudgeonly Jedi Master Luke Skywalker hid out after he defeated the Galactic Empire, but how did they come to be in the Star Wars universe in the first place?
For this answer, we turn to creature concept designer Jake Lunt Davies, who actually designed the porgs. Davies explained in an interview with Starwars.com:
Rian [Johnson – the director] had gone to shoot this sequence on Skellig Michael, which is the real island location that stands in for Ahch-To, and that island is covered in puffins. It’s a wildlife preserve and everywhere you look there are hundreds of birds dotted around the landscape.
Davies further explained:
From what I gathered, Rian, in a positive spin on this, was looking at how can he work with this. You can’t remove them. You physically can’t get rid of them. And digitally removing them is an issue and a lot of work, so let’s just roll with it, play with it. And so I think he thought, “Well, that’s great, let’s have our own indigenous species.”… The puffins were sort of a big influence on everything, really.
Yes, you heard that right, the porgs were inspired by puffins, those cute little seabirds everyone always thinks are already extinct, but are critically endangered.
Davies then explained:
There were two or three of us drawing at that point… It was mainly sort of playing around with different avian [concepts]. I tried to look at aquatic sources, so I remember doing things which riffed off of beavers and seals and, obviously, sea birds.I probably got the porg within the first [few attempts].
The thing about porgs is, they’re super cute, but you can’t quite put your finger on why. Davies thinks he has it nailed though.
[The porgs were] influenced by a seal and a pug dog and the puffin. The big eyes of a seal or the big eyes of a pug dog and the sort of funny, ugly face [of a pug]. I mean, pug dogs aren’t, by their nature, obviously cute. There are other animals and there are other cartoon creatures, I suppose, which are very obviously cute, and the porg doesn’t necessarily take what you think is obviously cute. But something like a pug dog is actually quite cute. There’s something incredibly appealing about it. Maybe it’s the big eyes. But like a pug, porgs have this very sort of sad, neutral face.
Davies says he hadn’t expected the porgs to go viral the way they did.
It was a huge surprise. You are concerned about audience reaction. I want to create something that I can be proud of, obviously. And then I kind of forgot about it really, because we got caught up in the next one and in Solo, and then they released the trailer and the little clip behind the scenes with the porgs. I was surprised when, suddenly, the Internet goes crazy for it and it turned into a meme fest.