Be honest: when the porgs showed up the trailers for Episode VIII, you were all really nervous. We were all worried they were going to be annoying along the likes of the most annoying aspects of Star Wars. They ended up being OK, and not just because Chewy ate one before he could get more annoying. Once Chewbacca ate one, everyone started asking the same question: would you actually want to eat a porg, and would it be healthy for you?
It’s a question that has even divided the film’s cast. Laura Dern said don’t eat porgs, while Oscar Isaac says go right on ahead. So why would some people react to porgs as they did; saying they’re cute and maybe a touch annoying, while also wanting to eat them? As always, science has the answer for you.
Professor Oriana Aragón explains this phenomenon in her co-authored paper, “Dimorphous Expressions of Positive Emotion: Displays of Both Care and Aggression in Response to Cute Stimuli,” which is a fancy way of saying, “it’s natural why you may want to eat things that look cute”.
“There is a strong response to cuteness that involves the suggestion of eating the cute being,” Aragón told The Verge. She found that this is almost a universal cultural trait, from East Asia to Europe and beyond. Multiple cultures have their equivalent of saying to a cute baby “I would eat you up”.
But there’s also an aspect of counteracting extreme positivity with something so starkly negative, like eating a cute little porg, to restore emotional equilibrium.
“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,” says Aragón. “I do not think people are actually wishing that this is a new source of protein.”
You don’t know Star Wars fans very well, Professor Aragón, or the internet. Some people may actually want to eat porgs because they’re hungry, and porg meat could be a good source of Vitamin D.
But at least science tells us this phenomenon may be normal. So when you go watch The Last Jedi a second time, remember that it’s OK to want to eat porgs, because science says it’s OK.