Don’t Pork this Roll or Scrap this Scrapple! The Dirty Culinary Pride of South Jersey/Philly

Ok, so I’m a little bit gross this last Sunday of Lent asking you, dear readers, to not “pork this roll”. I’ll pray extra hard next weekend that I’m not damned to hell (even though I’m on my way anyways). I thought I’d spend a moment to introduce all our readers to a bit of culinary genius that is often considered fatty and ‘bad for you’ that is really only available in the New Jersey/Philadelphia area – PORK ROLL and SCRAPPLE. Now, you may be thinking, could it be true!? A ROLL of pork? Rolled Pork? Scrapple? What the hell are these things? This HAS to be another form of lips and assholes, right? YES, YOU ARE RIGHT! And they are both absolutely delicious.

Jersey/Philly Pride - Pork Roll

I refuse to ‘sugar coat’ what pork roll and scrapple are. So if you’ve eaten it your whole life without knowing what it actually is, please stop reading now. To give you a bit of background, I grew up around Philadelphia, eating both of these tasty treats as a ‘breakfast side dish’, but only once a weekend since they were “bad for you”. Pork roll and scrapple were also often used in egg and cheese sandwiches too, which could possibly give you a coranary five minutes after you finished eating one. I never asked what exactly either of these two treats were – for some reason, I just knew not to ask. I remember my family telling me not to even look on the side of the package to read the ingredients because I may just never eat it again. Sometimes, I thought, it was just better not knowing.

But my desire to know a bit more has led me to write this post. I’m at a different stage with my eating than I was years ago. I now will eat cow balls if I’m in a country where cow balls are the local delicacy. I’m not afraid of knowing what exactly I’m eating – I’ll still try it. So, bring it… I’m not afraid anymore. Well, I wasn’t until I read this explanation of pork roll on one website:

What is pork roll made of, you ask? Well, it’s a secret concoction, which consists mainly of pork ground up with bits of fat and seasonings, and then hung and cured in cotton bagsโ€ฆthe rest is best left unsaid.

Does that help you understand it any better? Me neither. According to one of the oldest and American Breakfast - Pork Roll with Omeletmost popular pork roll manufacturers, Taylor Provisions, it is “a type of sausage-like pork product made from coarsely ground pork shoulder”. It is also smoked. Most people from New Jersey will call pork roll “Taylor Ham” after the Trenton-based manufacturer. Maybe they do this to make it sound more edible? Where I grew up, outside of Philadelphia, it was just simply called pork roll. It is supposedly called this because of the ‘roll’ or tube-like cotton sack that it comes in when you buy it. You can also buy pre-cut slices so you don’t have to figure out how to get it out of that damn sack. It looks like a big, long salami when it’s packaged whole. Pork roll is often grilled or fried (for a double heart-attack) and should be cut slightly with either 2 or 4 slits on the outer edges so that it cooks more evenly and doesn’t curl. Now, on to scrapple.

Scrapple truly is made up of “lips and assholes”, although they don’t actually advertise that on any of the websites. According to Wikipedia, scrapple is a savory mush (yes, that is what they said) of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour, often buckwheat flour. The mush is formed into a loaf and that’s how it comes when you buy it. You must slice it, like pork roll, and fry it up till the outside is crispy and the inside is nice and soft and warm. Scrapple got it’s name from the fact that it’s made of scraps the butcher was either going to throw out (aka, lips and assholes) or parts that are too small to be sold. Wikipedia actually offers a really wonderful description of the cooking process (which actually sells the product to non-believers better than I can – maybe I’m being too harsh with the ‘lips and assholes’ thing?):

Scrapple is typically made of hog offal, such as the head, heart, liver, and other scraps, which are boiled with any bones attached (often the entire head), to make a broth. Once cooked, bones and fat are discarded, the meat is reserved, and (dry) cornmeal is boiled in the broth to make a mush. The meat, finely minced, is returned, and seasonings, typically sage, thyme, savory, and others are added. The mush is cast into loaves and allowed to cool thoroughly until gelled.

Sounds good, huh? Both pork roll and scrapple really are delicious. If you’re still not sold on either of them, think about all the other things that are made from seemingly ‘gross’ things but taste pretty darn delicious – haggis, tripe, fried sheep brains, marrow, pigs feet, pigs ears, etc. etc. Next time you visit the store, ask if they have scrapple or pork roll. It may be hard to find, but I’ve read it is sold in some places in Florida and California. If you really are interested in tasting pork roll or scrapple, check out some of these mail order websites:

Does your city or country have a dish that others may look down upon or think would be nasty if they knew what it was made of?ย  I’d love to know!

54 thoughts on “Don’t Pork this Roll or Scrap this Scrapple! The Dirty Culinary Pride of South Jersey/Philly

  1. Lips and Assholes… I always did like scrapple. Cant find it here in the Midwest. But in Maryland (my homestate) and Philly it was part of life. I knew it was weird mushed up stuff, but “lips and assholes”, made me pause.Its like a one night stand, sometimes its best to know nothing.Thanks for the link. Want to order my baby some.

  2. Hmm, SPAM is probably the closest thing to Scrapple me thinks. I have no problem eating something as long as it tastes good but I will eat it seldomly if it’s not that healthy for you.

    As for Scrapple, it sounds like this dish could be the “Dirty Sanchez” of cookery…you get ass & lips all in one bite!

  3. Ha ha ha! I love my readers! This post was interesting for me to write because for a few hours after I published it i though to myself, did I go too far? Should I have written about the “lips and assholes”?? Not that we get that many hits here at the blog, could I have stopped anyone from trying these horribly delicious delicacies I grew up on? Courtney, I applaud your ability to put it so well that in our area, it was a “way of life”. Peter, what can I say, when someone can find a place to write “dirty sanchez” on a food blog, well, it’s genius! Ellie, I’ll give you that Dutch courage… I promise! I would NEVER put anything up on this blog that actually didn’t taste pretty darn good to alot of people! and Rita, you crack me up! Now I need to get some more people from my area to convince you too – but Courtney was a great start. Have a good Monday, y’all! – amy and jonny

    But then I get all these hilarious, open-minded comments and I realized it was worth it! Peter,

  4. I grew up in the Philadelphia area, and these two meat items are some of my favorites!

    Last year, I was on some medication that required me to eat breakfast. If I ate anything with carbohydrate in it, I was sick for the entire day; consequently, bacon, Spam, and things of that nature became the norm. I was “whining” to my parents who still live in Philadelphia about my problem (I am 50+ years old!), and a few weeks later, a box containing a cotton sack of a whole Taylor Pork Roll arrived in the mail with no indication of who sent it. I was afraid to open it, but the sack appeared to be intact, and I just LOVE Taylor Pork Roll, so I dipped into it. I happened to mention the mystery gift in my next communication with my parents, and my parents responded with, “Who ELSE in the world would send your a Taylor Pork Roll? Of COURSE we sent it to you!” My husband and I ate on that Taylor Pork Roll for weeks — finally getting a wee bit tired of it toward the end.

    We can get Scrapple here in the Atlanta area — Habbersetts and Jones Farm. I, naturally, prefer Habbersetts, but I’ll eat Jones Farm if it’s served to me.

  5. Scrapple is new for us, thanks for the info. In Viet cuisine, we having many similar pork roll variations with all pork “leftover” meat along with crunchy tendons. My mom makes one pork roll with her favorite…pork skin!

  6. Pork roll is delicious. Its my favorite breakfast meats even though i know what its made from. Who can resist eating something that resembles pac man? Scrapple is also delish but only if its crispy. now that I think of it scrapple is like eating an
    atm (not the mac machine)

  7. I love scrapple, I don’t care what its made out of and it really doesn’t bother me, my Sean’s Breakfast includes two slices of scrapple, with eggs over easy on top (2 or 3) and when you cut into it, the egg yoke drips down into the meat, making it even more delicious ^_^

  8. R U kidding me? There is no question the pork roll AND, AND, AND scrapple (only Habbersett, thank you) are the absolute best in breakfast meats. Why should you care what tastes good has in it? Well, except for chitterlings; I just could never bring myself to do them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    BTW, what an excellent blog!

  9. Oh, man! I didn’t even know they still made pork roll! I’m a baby boomer who grew up in Burlington County, NJ. At least once a week pork roll was on the lunch menu in grammar and high school. They would serve it on a regular hamburger bun. The condiment was ketsup. Oh, I would love to have one of those sandwiches now!

    Oh, and scrapple! I thought that was a southerner’s delicacy. My folks are from the south, so we would have it for breakfast every once in a while. Yeah, it had to be crispy…nothin nastier than soggy scrapple, ugh!

  10. Hi, Charlie! thanks for stopping by. I loved your story! Pork Roll in schools… you know with all the healthy talk that would never fly these days. but I did go back to philly this past w/e and was pleased to see a teenager at a bagel shop order a ‘taylor and bagel’ sandwich. and, you’re right… I use ketchup on my pork roll AND scrapple. Hope you stop by again!

  11. Another one for a Philly native to enjoy!

    And I love your sister specifying “eating an atm (not the mac machine)” – only a Philly-area native would call it a Mac machine! ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. Love scrapple AND pork roll!! I don’t care what’s in it, it’s damn good eatin’. I like my scrapple (sliced not-too-thin) with syrup drizzled over it. YUMMM. And my pork roll with melted cheese on a kaiser roll. DOUBLE YUMM.

    I just found your blog, by the way…great writing, and nice-looking photos, too. Nice job! I’m subscribing now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Hey Txvoodoo and Chris! You are so right about the Mac machine. It took me until about 3 years into college to stop calling it that. I want to bring it back! I remember the jingle, “Meet Mac for Your Money”. Ahhh, memories.

    And Chris, thanks so much for subscribing! I live to throw in some Philly things here and there. And I thought I was the only one who loved scrapple with syrup! but, i do like crispy scrapple too. my mom and i once thought we should start marketing scrapple chips – just deep fry the shit out of thin slices of scrapple. it would sell ! maybe only in the tri-state area.

  14. I grew up eating my mom’s version of scrapple, made with pork sausage. It sounds like the “real” version is made with other stuff? Although I think sausage IS lips & assholes. Hers only had cornmeal, no buckwheat, so it wasn’t that dingy color in the picture, but more yellow. Fried up crisp in lots of butter, nothing better. I even like it cold out of the refrigerator, though. Never had the pork roll, growing up in FL.

  15. Ok, so I read about Scrapple but that doesn’t mean that I’m sold on it, not one bit. It looks kinda gross in the picture, and saying that it’s like haggis or tripe does nothing for me in terms of getting me all that excited, even one tiny bit.

    To each their own, I s’pose. I live in the ya yooo betcha norwegian hicks of Minnesota but that don’t mean I want looote-fisk, ya know. Thanks for trying, and again, I’m sorry I offended you. SO not my intention! Had I known there was an ‘expert’ on the stuff, I would have called on you to talk about National Scrapple Day.

  16. I love this site I read every post on here. I am from Brookhaven, Pa. and I also grew up on pork roll and scrapple. My mom use to make for breakfast 3- 4 days a week it was a staple in our house. I live in Seattle Wa. now and no one out here has ever heard of either. Glad to here of others also missing it.

  17. I’m ordering or having someone send me some scrapple and pork roll. I remember stopping at Taylors on the boardwalk (atl city) and ordering a sandwhich as well as cooking at home. Crispy scrapple yum! I too am in the Seattle area and miss the food of the north east. Ya know all that healthy stuff we grew up with, cheese steaks, hoagies, (miss White House subs), lemon ice, real pizza to name a few.

  18. Those who know me know I live — and love — meats of all varieties. Taylor ham tops them all. It is the most fabulous pork product known to man, and I would happily trade a slab of jamon iberico for its weight in Taylor ham…soooo tangy….sooo meaty and rich…mmmmm….now where’s the Kaiser roll, American cheese and scrambled egg?

  19. My nephews, who grew up in CA, have never heard of pork roll, except for the Asian version. There is no comparison between the two! Pork roll, if fried too much, can end up tasting like bacon. It doesn’t have the fatty parts like bacon and is a entity in it’s own right. Just delicious. Serve it on a burger bun, english muffin or hardroll with cheese and egg. I’ve mailed pork roll to my nephews and they are now hailing it’s deliciousness to anyone who will listen. As for Scrapple, I ate it as a kid. My mom would slice it, flour it lightly and fry it in butter until crispy and golden. The inside was delicate and soft. We would eat it with a healthy dose of maple syrup. Sounds disgusting but it was truly wonderful. I stopped eating it because I grew up and found out what it was made of. Now that I’ve watched enough “Bizarre Foods”, Scrapple doesn’t sound so bad after all. I think I’m going to head out to the supermarket this weekend and let my hubbie and daughter experience it. We still live in NJ so it’s not that hard for me to get. Mmmmm…I can’t wait.

  20. While visiting a good friend in Melbourne Florida, ten years ago, we went to a restaurant for breakfast. Scrapple was on the menu. Being from Philly I love scrapple but didn’t expect to find it on a menu in Florida. How come I asked the waitress, “Oh,” she said, “that’s because the boss is from Easton and lots of our regulars are originally from the Philadelphia area.” As I ate my breakfast I thought this was my lucky day!

  21. I have lived in SJ all my life and absolutely love pork roll and scrapple. I still eat and enjoy it on a regular basis. I remember my mother saying that Pork Roll was no worse than hot dogs so if you can eat a hot dog, you can eat Pork Roll. And as far as Scrapple is concerned, I think it’s the food of the Gods.

  22. I grew up in Bucks County and moved to Central Florida. I love pork roll, I have doctors appointments in Del Ray and they have Taylor Pork Roll but NOT Scrapple at Publix, just picked up some today. I live in Palm Bay and can’t seem to find Scrapple ANYWHERE! Anyone know what grocery store carries them in Florida or where to buy it without ordering it? Great article and Thank you to anyone for any suggestions!

  23. I have been checking your site, looking for a type of meat we used to get years ago when I lived in NY/NJ and decided to ask you about it. It was pork with lots of fat veins in it, about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and about 8 to 9 inches long. We used to call it a tenderloin or sometimes a pork butt. It must have been rolled or chunks as it was sold in a net or a clear plastic casing, but did not come apart when unwrapped. We boiled it and then sliced it about 1/2 inch thick and removed the fat while eating it. I now live in South Carolina and no one knows what I am talking about. Any ideas as to what I should be asking for

  24. Yes you should be asking for,as I call it Porkroll or as other’s refer to it,Taylor ham. I also live in SC now and am originally from NJ and have found it at Krogers supermarket in Myrtle Beach or if you hapen to be in Murell’s Inlet, stop in at Lee’s Farmers Market a much better price at $ 6.00 a lb compared to $10.00 a lb at Krogers. Hope this helps you out.

  25. My Trenton area born wife introduced me to pork roll. Her family never had scrapple. On one of my first grocery trips I spied scrapple read its ingredients and said never. Fast forward many years and a breakfast buffet had turkey scrapple so I tried it and it wasn’t bad. After the Dirty Jobs episode we just had to try it and after learning to cook it perfectly we have a new found love for it.

    Our camping buddies from Baltimore love it when we bring pork roll esspecially the Canadian contingent. (Had to pay them back for poutine.)

    Spam is more similar to pork roll than scrapple.

  26. @ meg fortino. I “discovered” taylor pork roll right here in Georgia! A little place called New York Deli. Its on Oak Rd off of Five Forks Trickum Rd in the Lawrenceville/Lilburn area! Heres something to try, on a croissant, taylor pork roll, ham and bacon with swiss cheese, tomato and spicy mustard! Make sure you grill the inside of croissant a little! I call it” The Pig Sandwich!

  27. Catholics are STILL practicing Lent and STILL not eating meat on Fridays and STILL believing it’s a sin and they wil go to hell for eating meat?? Seriously??? Geez, shunning Catholiscism and going heathen really were the best things to ever happen to me, now I can eat meat whenever I want….damn the Catholic church and their stupid rules, ruined my life.

    1. I don’t think most Catholics really believe they are going to hell if they dont’ eat meat on fridays but there are many that do! Especially older Catholics or very orthodox Catholics! This is definitely one rule I don’t adhere to. I believe Vatican 2 kind of lifted that rule a bit, though.

  28. I love love love pork roll and scrapple. I grew up in Burlington County but moved to the west coast several years ago. Haven’t had any pork goodness since leaving home, and only get it on occasion when I visit. Like Charlie, I remember having pork roll sandwiches in school lunches. Yum! I would love to have one right now:)

  29. I GLADLY eat my porkroll any way I can, usually on an egg and cheese sandwich. And scrapple I equally enjoy dripping with maple syrup. That’s the way I grew up. I remember people across town would eat it with ketchup. While I can appreciate it, it never caught on in our house. One of the most excellent, killer breakfasts I’ve had, and it was a daring one, is a porkroll, two egg, lots o cheese, and a nice thick slab od scrapple on a kaiser roll. I didn’t forget the ketchup or syrup. It was amazing!

  30. I miss a number of foods from Baltimore, where I grew up…It’s been too many years since I’ve have a REAL Philly Cheese Steak or Steak Sub…And Mid-westerners put Ketchup or A1 Sauce on damn near everything they eat…ONLY Yellow mustard on my hot dogs…I do love Ketchup on my Scrapple…I say “my” because I make it myself, as close as I can come to the original recipe…Sadly, they do not sell pork lips and assholes here, darn it…LMAO…I can’t get my other favorite of Taylor’s Pork Roll or anything like it…The closest to taste I have found is Sliced Genoa Salami fried as you would Pork Roll, slitted on the sides…Ahhh, I miss the Blue Crab too…Nothing compares…I loved finding your article…I might even post it on my Facebook…And I bookmarked you…Keep the good foods coming…

  31. I have been working at a scrapple recipe, and the first one that I did sort of flops in the fry pan and is mush. I didnt make it with pieces and parts…no chicken lips or assholes! I think I should have though! I actually put neck bones and pork knuckles into it. The flavor is great, but it wont stay together for me when I try to fry it. Rather than wasting it…I decided to freeze it and use it in and for other recipes. Today, I am making a filled roll type thing (like postelles). I pressed a square into foil, filled it with taco meat and now I am boiling the sealed foil. Im not sure how it will turn out, but want not waste not right? Love your post. Thought it was good…real reading!

    1. @Vicki: thanks so much! We’ve never tried making scrapple but we commend you for trying. I wonder if it is all the collagen from the connective tissue in the chicken lips and assholes that binds it together? Keep exploring and let us know when you perfect your recipe!

  32. I had never heard of Pork Roll/Taylor Ham until after I moved back to NJ in 1996. I had grown up in Gloucester County and was confused by everyone saying it was a South Jersey favorite. I asked my mother, born in 1916, died in 2008, if she knew what it was. She had also never heard of it. I can’t help but wonder who decided it was a South Jersey staple. I did try it and I’ll stick with scrapple, bacon and Virginia ham.

  33. I’m originally from Philly and love scrapple. Hers the vegetarian version I’ve come up with. Use Tempeh ( fermented soy beans) cook it in a black iron frying pan till very crisp using ketchup do it soaks into the Tempeh “scrapple”. Serve it with cold ketchup and a drop of good maple syrup. Voila! Swear it tastes JUST like scrapple. My mother served it with pancakes with maple syrup crossing over to the scrapple and ketchup since they were on the same plate.

  34. Hi Amy:

    I was born and raised in Phila and grew up eating Taylor Pork Roll and scrapple. I live outside Seattle WA now and can’t get it in the stores. Fortunately, however, I raise my own hogs, and therefore always have plenty of heads to boil down. I add the cure and the spices to the boiling water. I take out all the bones and teeth (the slaughterer skins the heads to I don’t have to scrape), and I strain out all the meat, cool it down in the fridge, and then run it through the grinder (coarse disk). The cure makes the meat nice and pink, and then I boil corn meal or grits to a thick mush with some of the stock, add the ground meat, and mix thoroughly. I put the mixture in square loaf pans, and voila! Perfect scrapple. It’s just like I remember. I eat it with fried eggs and a dollop of apple butter.

    Thanks so much for WANF. I just discovered it a couple months ago and am working my way through it.

    1. @Ivan: thanks so much for your kind comment (and for working your way through our site) not to mention the method for making your own! All we need now is to find a butcher who will supply us with some pig face!

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