Pork scratchings revival prompting posh pig-out

They have been the preserve of spit-and-sawdust pubs for decades but humble pork scratchings are now flying off the shelves of trendy bars and also upmarket department stores.

Managing director Graham Jebb, of Telford, and (right) Ray Hipkiss, of Tamworth, at RayGray Snacks Ltd, Riverside Industrial Estate, Rugeley.
Managing director Graham Jebb, of Telford, and (right) Ray Hipkiss, of Tamworth, at RayGray Snacks Ltd, Riverside Industrial Estate, Rugeley.

They have been the preserve of spit-and-sawdust pubs for decades but humble pork scratchings are now flying off the shelves of trendy bars and also upmarket department stores.

A number of theories surround the beginnings of the pork scratching but the common consensus is that this region is the epicentre of the industry, worth around £30 million a year in the UK.

The most popular theory is that in the 1800s, families would keep and rear their own pigs at home, and when it came to slaughter, the economics of the time dictated that nothing should go to waste, so people began to deep fry the rind to eat.

A rival view is that in the early 19th century, pork scratchings came as the production of meat was industrialised, and using a deep fryer was an efficient way to make use of scraps from the slaughterhouse.

Whichever tale carries most weight among the historians, or pub armchair experts, the hard pork scratching is a long-standing symbol of snacking close to home.

At RayGray Snacks in Rugeley, managing director Graham Jebb says the snacks are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, shown through the launch of his designer version of the delicacy – Mr Trotter’s.

The father of two, who lives in Telford, said: “Scratchings are having a major resurgence. The business was a level playing field but now people might not be able to go out and buy a meal, they want a treat.

And we’re tying to bring them to a wider audience.”

Scott Guthrie, spokesman for Midlands Snacks, which makes pork scratchings and has 30 staff in Wolverhampton, said the firm sold 600 tons of pork scratchings every year across the UK, including to pubs, supermarkets and butchers. He added: “There is something of a pork scratching revival with many celebrities proclaiming their love for them – Chris Evans, Cameron Diaz, Al Murray and Kate Moss amongst others.

“Nicole Sherzinger was even publicly introduced to the traditional pub ritual of a pint and a packet of pork scratchings by X Factor winner James Arthur.”

RayGray Snacks now employs 22 staff and its profits have grown every year since its beginnings 17 years ago. The business produces all three varied types of the miniature delicacy – ranging from the hard scratching most familiar to the West Midlands and Staffordshire, to the puffy, dry Pork Crunch more common in America, and even the softer version of the fatty rind, Mr Trotter’s, which is now 15 months off the production line.

It is already being stocked in Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols, John Lewis and even the farm shop at Chatsworth House.

Comments for: "Pork scratchings revival prompting posh pig-out"

John Burden

Being an Ex Pat Black Country Lad from Wolverhampton now living in Canada, any chance of getting some of your fine fair Hard Sctachings. Definately willing to pay the cost of shipping a box/carton.

Visa / Paypal payment would be easy

Could even canvas the local Brit Shops here to see if they are interested.

Best Regards,

John

turkish baggie

It brings a tear to my eye!

Been outside of the UK for a few years but miss scratchings with my beer!

Just a little info that may assist the experts?

Years ago I was working in Northen Denmark, Grena. A small town with a couple of bars, anyway they sold scratchings there.

I was amazed but found out it was a ancient Danish/Viking meal that you would only see in the outbacks of Denmark. The main point of this is certain areas in and around the Blackcountry saw battles against the Vikings.

The Red Lion just before Wombourne actually had Viking relics on display, so my theory is? We blackcountry folk picked up this method of making scratchings from the Vikings?

Another scratching fact? When the Albion bought Laurie Cunningham, Joe Mayo, Tipton lad was part of the deal and went to Orient. When he had got settled in down there he became the 'agent' for KVE scratchings and proceeded to take orders in London pubs. That was the late 70's early 80's.

wHO WOULD THINK THE HUMBLE SCRATCHING COULD HAVE SO MUCH HISTORY????

johnnythrostle

proper scratchings are whats called leaf scratchings..hard to come by now as they were sold by local butchers shops loosly and not in a sealed bag like in pubs and shops(elf and saftey again) i believe theres a butcher in princess end still sells them.

for prepacked i like mr porky or you can get 2 packets of the blackcountry snacks type for a quid at poundland

Bob Taylor

I enjoy scratchings like the butchers sell, especially halal ones.They taste superb.KVE are legendary.