The Mangalica pig is one of the oldest pig breeds in Europe. It has its origins in the 1830s.
It appeared in the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, after Archduke Joseph Anton Johann received some Sumadija pigs from a Serbian prince and crossed them with Bakony and Szalonta pigs. The resulting "curly hair pig" was originally reserved for the Habsburg royalty, but became so popular for its wonderful taste that, by the end of the 19th Century, it became the foremost breed in Europe. The breed was officially recognized in 1927.
The Mangalica was widespread in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the beginning of the 20th Century. Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria came to have three million heads, fed in marble feeders. At pig fairs at that time, it won every award. Its most prosperous period was between 1850 and 1950, since these pigs, having a high proportion of fat, had many different uses: for cooking, making candles, making soap and cosmetics, and even for the manufacture of lubricants and explosives. At that time, the fat was more valuable than the animal's flesh. After World War II, their number was drastically reduced. Hungary had been on the losing side in both World Wars, and the reparations that were paid in kind also made a dent in the country's number of pigs.
After the 1970s, the introduction of new agricultural techniques pushed the cessation of production of Mangalica. In fact, the Mangalica pig is not suited to the new style of intensive agriculture; it needs wide open spaces and its reproduction rate is very slow. Thus, other thinner and faster-growing imported breeds gradually replaced it. And the Mangalica pig began to disappear drastically. In those years, Mangalica pigs in Austria could only be found in National Parks and Zoos.
The resulting "curly hair pig" was originally reserved for the Habsburg royalty.
From 1950, modern science decreed that saturated fats were dangerous for health. The bacon was identified as harmful, and the production of Mangalica slowed down. What was not known at the time is that Mangalica fat contains less saturated fats and more unsaturated fats than an equal amount of butter; and also it contains no trans fats, unlike margarine and hydrogenated vegetable fat.