The Mathematics of Boneless Pork Rectums

Ever wonder what’s in those delicious dumplings? What gives them that special tang? The flavor that cannot quite be named? Wonder no further! For the secret has been revealed. Boneless pork rectums

And the secret is…boneless pork rectums, finely diced. All the hush-hush is over because, through carelessness, these boxes were allowed to be photographed just before they were hustled into a restaurant in Taiwan. But now that their presence has been revealed to the world, the silence surrounding dumpling recipes can be broken.

Take a careful look at the labels. Not only are these rectums boneless—all the best ones are—but they are inverted! Culinary insiders have long known that it is only in the cheapest dumplings that one finds non-inverted rectums.

This is almost certainly because inverting a rectum is a tedious, labor-intensive process, requiring specialized skills and arcane knowledge available to only a few. We can only imagine that the apprenticeship leading to a mastery of inversion is long and grueling.

As a consequence, the non-inverted kind are cheaper. They are usually ground together with the external tissue surrounding the orbicularis oris muscles and processed into hot dogs. The more expensive inverted cuts are saved for export and thus eventually find their way between dumpling skins.

Now, some say the best rectums are those with crowns; and not only with crowns, but with the crowns unopened. Leaving them shut gives what many consider a more rustic flavor. The most frequently used word to describe their texture is “authentic.” Boneless pork rectums

Dawn Pork & Bacon of Ireland is acknowledged to be the best supplier of rectums, with or without crowns (those above are from Tyson Frozen Meats, Inc., a USA company). Dawn even sell the crowns separately. Being a one-stop shop, you can even load up on uteri and spleens while there. But unfortunately no pork “fries”, which are very popular in Romania. This is because “nearly all male pigs are castrated right after birth” which makes their fries “too undeveloped for sale.”

Pig offal (pronounced aw-ful) is big business. For example, just look at this request from Samda Economy And Trade Inc., a company which is always on the lookout for pig parts. On an international export/import website they put of the request, “We are a trading company in Korea and looking for ‘Pork Rectum’ from the United States and will buy 2~3 20 feet containers of that every month.”

I teach math and I am always on the look out for interesting problems. It makes an nice exercise to calculate how many rectums it would take to fill those containers. The 20-foot container is a standard size; we have all seen these containers on the highway. They measure 20′ x 8′ x 8.5′ feet. The volume is 1,360 cubic feet.

We only need one more piece of information. The size of the average, deboned, inverted pig’s rectum is two feet long, and 2 inches wide. For the purposes of this calculation, we can assume that the rectum is a parallelepiped, which is to say, a rectangular box of size 2′ x 0.167′ x 0.167′ feet.

A standard rectum thus takes up 0.056 cubic feet. We’ll ignore packing considerations for now and imagine that we’re trying to stuff as many rectums as we can into a container. This calculation, which will represent an upper bound, is easy: we have 1,360 available cubic feet, and each rectums takes up 0.056 cubic feet.

That makes about 25,000 rectums per container. Using the universal principle “one pig, one rectum”, this makes it 25,000 pigs slaughtered per container. Of course, packaging adds bulk, so that the actual number of rectums that can be transported per container must be less. A figure of 20% to 30% increase per rectum seems reasonable. That is, each dry rectum, considering the plastic, dry ice, cardboard, etc., is like 1.2 to 1.3 packaged rectum.

This means that each takes up about 0.067 to 0.072 cubic feet per rectum. That gives us a low of about 18,500 to a high of around 20,000 rectums per container.

Now, those Koreans are importing 2 to 3 of those containers every month. Pick the middle figure. That makes 30 containers a year, just going to this one company. That gives a grand total of between 560,000 to 610,000 rectums per year sailing across the high seas on their way to Korea.

We haven’t even begun to consider other companies inside Korean, nor all those in Taiwan, China, the Philippines and so on. No matter how you do the math, it adds up to a whopping number of rectums.


  1. machiavellian

    About the pig testicles: yes, they are popular in Romania, but you won’t find them in stores. On Christmas, families usually slaughter one or two pigs, and the testicles ar cooked after being removed from the fresh animal.

  2. Speed

    I think your volume calculation assumes that the rectum (or more correctly the last two feet of the large intestine) hasn’t been evacuated. Perhaps Taiwan isn’t as concerned about e-coli contamination as is the US consumer but I doubt it.

  3. Speed

    Everything but the squeal.

  4. Briggs


    No sir. These are processed rectum dimensions.

  5. DAV

    Isn’t “boneless rectum” redundant? Like saying “sweet sugar”? I think there’s a special term for a rectum containing a bone — something I’ve heard is popular in some cloistered societies (correctional institutes for instance).

  6. bob

    So, what does my wife mean when she calls me, “Dumpling”?

  7. JH

    Grandma’s recipe: (It involves no math but basic measurements.)

    1 kg intestines (rectum)
    2 tablespoons oil
    1/4 cup threaded young tender ginger (can be found in Asian Markets)
    1/2 cup your favorite cooking wine
    Salt and sugar

    Clean intestines in cold water, rub in salt and rinse thoroughly. Thankfully, the intestines are inverted already, which makes cleaning easier. Cut intestines into 1/4-inch segments for effortless chewing. Now, we can begin to stir-fry. (Turn on the stove.) Heat a wok over high heat and swirl in oil. When the oil is hot, add ginger and stir-fry for about 10 seconds. As we know ginger adds a special, tasty flavor and zest. Next add intestines and wine, and stir-fry it for I-do-not-know-how-many minutes. Finally, add salt and “sweet” sugar, to suit your taste.

    Ta-da! Done.

    P.S. I have recalled Grandma’s recipe to the best of my memory. Try at your own risk. ^_^

  8. Ray

    They can have the rectums as long as they don’t take the maws and chitterlings. We need them for soul food.

  9. How many readers don’t have the guts to comment on this thread? Kudos to Bob for the best question, btw.

  10. Wayne Richards

    But… but…but how can this be so? Surely the plural of ‘rectum’ is ‘recta’? Are you sure you know what you’re talking about?

  11. Wayne Richards

    Just checked my OED. ‘Rectums’ is also correct. I stand rectified.

  12. Wayne Richards

    Actually, I think I’d rather sit.

  13. Cheesy

    Is it possible Korea might be interested in some Washington, DC rectums?
    We could rectify the trade imbalance…

  14. hutch1200

    My family heavily sugars the pig snouts, and places them in the salted rectums. We then make Demo-Dumplings!….I’ll be here all week, try the Veal too!

  15. Bernie

    You got me. I could think of nothing to say that could possibly add anything on this topic. I have to say that I will not be ordering Chinese/Taiwanese dumplings any time soon.

  16. bonmot

    Rectum? Nearly killed ’em!

    (Someone had to say it.)

  17. Just Some Guy

    bonmot, that was great!

    I was thinking: rectums? Wayne Richards beat me to it. But the Oxford English Dictionary, alas, is not the Athenian Greek Dictionary. It should be “recta”, damn it! I demand a correcta!

  18. This was the highlight of my day.

    Just the kind of analysis I would do.

    There’s a whole lot of rectums going on. I find it interesting to consider what circa 600,000 rectums sailing across the pacific might look like.

    Linkback at my place.

  19. Penny Schneller

    Just back from a trip to the Chinese grocery store. I had to look up possible uses for the packaged pork rectums I saw displayed. I will never look at Chinese food the same. Our dog loved the pork dumplings I had bought for our family dinner.

  20. Gregorio Millar

    Pig intestines = Chitlins with gravy

  21. Leejun Malanum

    I want to buy,how much?

  22. Jim

    If the pig’s gay, the volume calculations are all wrong.

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