Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An Ode To Scrapple

I am going on vacation soon and wanted to leave on a positive note. It is true that there is much in the world that needs fixing, changing, adjusting or pitching out. But there is at least one perfect thing in this universe; Habbersett’s Scrapple.

If you didn’t grow up in Pennsylvania or Delaware, you may not know that scrapple is the best possible accompaniment to fried eggs on God’s Green Earth. It beats bacon hands down and makes breakfast sausage taste bland in comparison. The lack of knowledge about this thoroughly satisfying breakfast food is widespread; there are some scary myths floating around out there.

Recently, I was again forced to defend the World’s Best Breakfast Meat against ignorant anti-Scrapple propaganda when a local radio personality posited over the airwaves that “scrapple is made from wieners.” If you aren’t in third grade anymore, you may not understand that he was actually stating that scrapple is made from pig genitals. Why would anyone even believe that? It is sad to think that they would, prompting me to set the record straight.

Being raised outside of Philadelphia, I grew up with scrapple. My mom made a big breakfast after church every Sunday which almost always consisted of scrapple, eggs and toast. Sometimes we had link sausage, but most often it was scrapple and it was a family favorite. As a child, I took it for granted that everyone knew what scrapple was and that you could get it anywhere. Wrong!

Scrapple is a dish that was created by the Pennsylvania Dutch. They were known for their thrift and used everything that was edible. When they made liverwurst or sausage, they used the “scraps” from that to create scrapple. Scrapple DOES contain some parts of the pig that some would normally perhaps not use, such as the liver and the heart. However, people use the gizzards from chicken to make gravy and stock and fried chicken livers are a favorite of many people where I live now.

You can’t find scrapple where I live now and most people don’t know much about it. I find that what they do know about it is as wrong as wrong can be. The following pig parts are NOT USED in any scrapple brand that I have ever heard of: snouts, ears, feet, tail, genitals. Also, scrapple is NOT the same as “Head Cheese” which is something so disgusting-looking that it is beyond belief that anyone would confuse the two! (keep in mind when viewing the picture below that someone went out of their way to make this look appetizing!)

There are only two brands of scrapple worth buying: Jones and Habbersett’s. Habbersett’s is the KING of scrapple. The difference is in the seasonings. Jones comes close, but it cannot match the savory blend of spices that makes Habbersett’s the favorite of scrapple lovers everywhere. It is impossible to get good scrapple where I live now. In the past, I have been able to order Jones scrapple at a local grocery store, but they will not carry it for long because I am the only one that buys it. People here in Kansas just don’t know what they are missing!

Here are some scrapple truths:

Wikipedia: Scrapple or pon haus (Dutch) is a savory mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour, often buckwheat flour. The mush is formed into a loaf, and slices of the scrapple are then fried before serving. Scraps of meat left over from butchering, not used or sold elsewhere, were made into scrapple to avoid waste. Scrapple is best known as a regional American food of the Mid-Atlantic States (Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland).
Scrapple is typically cut into quarter-inch to three-quarter-inch slices, and pan-fried until browned to form a crust. It is sometimes first coated with flour. It may be fried in butter or oil and is sometimes deep-fried.
Scrapple is arguably the first pork food invented in America. The culinary ancestor of scrapple was the Low German dish called Panhas, which was adapted to make use of locally available ingredients, and it is still called "panhoss" or "pannhas" in parts of Pennsylvania. The first recipes were created more than two hundred years ago by German colonists who settled near Philadelphia and Chester County, Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries.

I have never personally tasted a scrapple as good as Habbersett’s, ( which is made in Pennsylvania and not sold at any store even REMOTELY close to where I live. Sadly, the Habbersett’s website is extremely limited and outdated. It doesn’t appear as though it has been updated since 2003. I have tried the email addresses listed there in an attempt to have some scrapple sent to me, but have never received a reply to any email I have sent. If anyone out there has a Habbersett’s connection, will you please hook me UP??? (I’m dying over here!)

The picture above depicts scrapple as it appears after slicing, cooking and then cutting in half (bottom right below the star-shaped bread). The kid that had THAT lunch was one lucky little bug!!

I found this website that has LOTS of recipes containing scrapple. I might even try some myself, if I can ever get my hands on some decent scrapple:

I found this website for a scrapple brand that I never heard of. It is promising in that both the ingredients and the packaging appear very similar to Habbersett’s. HOWEVER, apparently they only ship scrapple during the holidays. BUMMER!!

NEVER go to this website to find out more about scrapple; it’s full of inaccuracies!! (Lips and assholes—really???! Who would believe that these parts could even be separated from the carcass, nevermind packaged and sold??) This sort of ignorant raving from an admirer of Scrapple is completely inexcusable.

If you are lucky enough to live in a place where scrapple is sold (particularly Habbersett's or Jones) and have never tasted it; do yourself a favor and get some to cook this weekend. You simply slice it and fry it. Serve it with fried eggs (over medium) and toast. Then, just for me, mash it up and mix it with the eggs and use your toast to mop up every last delicious drop! (At least that way I can live vicariously through your scrapple experience!)

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marain said...

Wow, a new food item to try! I will try to remember to check for it in the supermarkets in California and Florida this summer (I don't think I'd have much luck finding it here in Austria). I've never heard of Panhass, but I will ask around. One thing we do have here is something called "Leberkaese", usually served hot in a crispy white bread roll. Very yummy!

Hope you have a good vacation!

ZIRGAR said...

Wow! I have to say that I was raised in WV and now live in VA and I have never heard of scrapple until I read this post of yours. Overall it sounds pretty delicious, what with pigs being the sweetest and yummiest of our barnyard friends. Plus, anything fried is el perfecto in my book. I will look into procuring some and see if I can make it work for me. Thanks!

Love your blog and your comments over at Bob Cesca's Blog!

kcfoodtruckgroupie said...


You should have no trouble finding scrapple in Florida. According to my internet research, you can find it at Publix supermarkets there. I did read a blog from California that said you can get it there, too, but I don't know how old that was. I used to be able to get Habbersett's Scrapple at the Skaggs Alpha Beta in Albuquerque. But they closed.

Keeping in mind that this is no gourmet item, please let me know what you think if you get a chance to try some. My husband, a native Kansan agrees with me that it is better than sausage. And he is man who loves his pork!

kcfoodtruckgroupie said...


LOVE your blog too! I just became a follower. I think you and my husband share a fascination with Bjork. I find her voice interesting and her videos are always artisticly interesting. The robot thing was cool, though I am less impressed with the lesbian thing than I might be if I was of the male persuasion.

I look forward to reading future posts.

Tango daddy said...

I grew up close to a very traditional Mennonite community around Kitchener Ontario. I have had scrapple, but for me it is not as memorable.
Now just back up a tad please on my very memorable local head cheese. It's all a matter of taste.

kcfoodtruckgroupie said...

Tango Daddy,
As always you call me out when I overstep. Thanks for that. Who am I to trample on your fondness for headcheese when I have suffered the same treatment for my love of scrapple?

When I went looking for scrapple at the butcher's here years ago, they showed me some headcheese that looked NOTHING like the picture I posted here. I wasn't even sure what to do with it. The man told me it is eaten in sandwiches. Is that true?

kcfoodtruckgroupie said...

I found nirvana at a Publix in Orlando, Fla. I bought six packages of Habbersett's Scrapple and then the fun began. How to get it back to Kansas? THAT is another story for another time (I promise). BUT, the important thing is that I got it here and had my scrapple and eggs breakfast that I had been craving for years. It was DELICIOUS.

Unknown said...

Yes, Jones and Habbersett's are good, but Hatfield is my favorite. I always bake my scrapple, half inch slices on a very lightly oiled cookie sheet cook well at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, leaves them crisped on the outside, soft on the inside, bake longer to crisp it more if that's your taste.

kcfoodtruckgroupie said...

Jim, I have two pounds of Habbersett's left in my freezer. I just might try your idea of baking it instead of frying it. The hardest thing about frying scrapple is that you have to wait so long before you can turn it; it seems to be forever. And if you get impatient and turn it too soon, you ruin it and it falls apart.
Thanks for the heads up!

Matt Keene said...

Steer clear of Rapa. I tried inthe absence of anything else here in VA, and it's terrible....

kcfoodtruckgroupie said...

Thanks very much for the heads up on RAPA. I can order certain kinds from one of the stores here in Kansas and was told that RAPA might be one of them. But I can't order my favorite Habbersett's here, unfortunately. I will be sure to stear clear of RAPA. If you can get Jones in Virginia, it's not too bad. (A little bit bland when compared to Habbersett's)

Becky Fisher said...

I have to disagree-- Rapa is the best! If you aren't a true Sussex Countian, you may want to steer clear. Here in FL, we get Jones Dairy farm in the frozen case-- Jones owns Rapa. We've had them all, and Rapa is by far the most flavorful. Whenever friends visit here in FL, they can only come bearing Rapa Scrapple. Whenever I go back home, I get several 1lb packs and slice it for the freezer. Sometimes you just have to have the real thing.

kcfoodtruckgroupie said...

Thanks for weighing in; all opinions are welcome! You are lucky to live in Florida. As I recently discovered when I visited, many brands of scrapple are available at Florida grocery stores. Here is Kansas, we got bupkis!! Soon I will have to thaw out my last two bricks of Habbersett's scrapple to eat them before they go bad. It will be a bittersweet moment, rest assured.

Anonymous said...

Don't be knocking Rappa......I grew up in Delaware and we were raised on Rappa and Kirby & Hollaway. They are the only two worth eating in my opinion. We here in Delaware have our annual scrapple festival, it a great opportunity to try other brands......some of the Delaware scrapple companies have been in business for 100 years. You people in PA think you started everything...... People in Delaware are very, very, very particular about our scrapple brands...... Don't mess with us.... Or our scrapple.....

Anonymous said...

Here is a connection! I'm from PA,(York) where you can still get individual farmers' recipe scrapple at the farmer's markets. My husband has been saying he really misses scrapple now that we are back in New Mexico, where the food of the gods is green chili stew. So...I ordered 4 pounds of Habbersett scrapple from and we are now eating it and he is delighted. Expensive, but he couldn't get that PA Dutch deliciousness out of his head. Hope that helps

Tdogg said...

I grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and all we ate was Rapa scrapple. It does contain snouts. Personally, I think it's the best. Too bad it's hard to come by in OH.

I think Habbersett's and Rapa are both owned by the same company now and might be made in the same plant too.

Anonymous said...

We have a southern version of scrapple very common in western north Carolina called "liver mush" almost identical to scrapple . I've tried both I grew up on liver mush. Best meat on the planet its amazing that an exactly the same dish was created in 2 diffirant places hundreds of miles apart with differant names for the same thing!

More Cowbell said...

I lived in Baltimore for many years and was a total convert to Rapa brand scrapple. I used to be able to find it at my Safeway in California, but they stopped stocking it.

I had friends living in York who would either mail it to me or ship it, and I was in heaven again. Then they moved to Washington state. Sigh.

So, I am searching now for a place to buy it (or any scrapple) at a reasonable price. Really, when companies charge a fortune for the shipping, do they really need to triple the charge for the product, too???

I've made my own in the past, and it was pretty good, but I'm still craving the Rapa.

Jim Eastern Shore of Maryland said...

Scrapple is boiled to cook it and then cooled in a block. I normally eat the ends "raw" while cooking the slices. Every scrapple I have had is good. A little different blend of seasoning with each brand. I currently eat Greensboro(made by Rapa) and Kirby and Holloway. Individual brands from Dover and Milton De are great also. Most meat shops have some type of scrapple. Eat the brands you like and do not put down the brands you do not like. These brands have not been around this long if people did not like them!

streetsigngirl said...

being from Baltimore i know good scrapple the best WAS Goetze's now defunct now living in the midwest i can get only Jones very good not like Goetze's i think Rapa is too livery my aunt lives near Bridgeport

Unknown said...

The Habbersett and RAPA brands have been purchased by Jones sausage.

I don't know if they have retained their recipies or if they are now the same.

Jones sells frozen scrapple by the 12 pound case (12 one pound bricks)

Sellers on Amazon have frozen Habbersett, RAPA, and Hatfield in various size packages (8 one pound bricks has the best price today).

I am out of scrapple so I need to refill my freezer. I usually get Jones but after shipping the cost per pound is lower for Habbersett so I will try it.

Anonymous said...

Jones scrapple is readily available in CA, and in Texas (Kroger, Ralphs, VONS, HEB).
My problem: when I fry it with or without flour, it crumbles and falls apart. What am I doing wrong?

streetsigngirl said...

i find if it was frozen it falls apart

Unknown said...

I fry defrosted slices of scapple in at least 1/8 inch of butter in a small well seasoned cast iron pan. I place the scrapple in the hot pan and resist the urge to move it until there is a nice THICK crust on the bottom.

If two pieces are touching I LEAVE THEM ALONE. Moving them before the bottom is crisped will result in crumbling. They can be cut apart just before flipping.

If I was able to resist the impulse to check the bottom early I can flip the scrapple slice and crust the second side.

If I fail to resist and it crumbles I add scrambled egg and cook it with the butter and scrapple crumbles. I eat the eggs with the scrapple which didn't crumble.

My slices are a bit over 1/4 inch thick.

I have never floured scrapple slices.

streetsigngirl said...

very good idea- my family in Pa. would flour it but forgot about it will try i am from Baltimore there was a xcellent scrapple by a local vendor the best but be sure it was a vessel clogger

brokenknife said...

I lived in Delaware for a few years and was introduced to scrapple, liked it sliced and slightly crispy. My wife loves the stuff but can't find her favorite Rapa brand here in Alabama. Her family sends it to her. She's buying Habberset in Publix and likes it, but it is slightly different. Jones Farms always owned Habberset, but now they make scrapple out of the same factory in Bridgeville De that Rapa has always been made. It looks like Jones bought or partnered with Rapa and now make it all in De, but with slightly different recipes. Her opinion is that the flavor is about the same but the consistency is slightly different. Either way, enjoy your scraps!