Love it or Hate It Scrapple is Cool Again

Scrapple is everywhere in Lancaster County.  Actually, the mysterious meaty brick is not walled in by Amish Country’s borders, and in fact can be found throughout the PA, MD, DE region, even in hip urban centers like Philadelphia.  Philly chef Adam Diltz (Elwood Restaurant) serves up a surprisingly trendy Venison Scrapple on weekends for the restaurant’s formal tea service.  What started out generations ago as a way to use literally every last scrap of meat, when “waste–not–want–not” really meant something to thrift–by–necessity area farmers, the deliciously “fringe” meat conglomerate is enjoying a renaissance among hipsters and foodies.

Within the last year, a love song, penned to honor the traditionally porcine loaf, has been racking up views on YouTube, written without irony by Robesonia (just over the northern border of Lancaster County) based songwriter Mitch Wolfe.  The independent film, which premiered around the same time in Lancaster at the art–house (and distillery–eatery) Zoetropolis, “Scrapple Road” marks an epic–journey, modern–travelogue, discovery–documentary, which seeks to truly understand the mixture of folk lore and food science of PA Dutch Country’s most famous mystery meat.  

Film director Kurt Kolaja, raised in Northwest Pennsylvania, traveled the Mid–Atlantic US as a photographer for various TV stations.  While he lived and worked in Scrapple’s backyard, he didn’t discover it for himself until his wife, Elise, purchased a block at their neighborhood grocery store, along Maryland’s Eastern Shore. 

That sizzling slice of porky goodness sparked a year–long obsession with the meat.  He ended up making “Scrapple Road” by way of his extensive travels to unlock the mysteries surrounding scrapple.  His film, and the journey he took to make it, can be experienced in depth at his website,  

Scrapple is typically a pork–based meat which is formed into a brick.  Corn meal (binding agent) and spices (flavor) are added to the meat mixture to finish the product.  Almost everyone in the Mid–Atlantic who loves scrapple eats it as a breakfast meat, sliced off the brick and devoured as a square patty.  From there, preferences and tactics for consumption differ wildly.  Some love their scrapple deep–fried.  Others only enjoy theirs pan–fried.  Toppings are even more vociferously debated.  Do you eat yours plain?  With ketchup?  Syrup?  

Prefer to drink your scrapple instead of eating it?  Yes, believe it or not, as a further testament to scrapple being “cool” again, the much loved and much maligned meat was brewed and distilled by regional brands for the truly epicurious.  

Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery, a craft brewery known for boldly brewing some pretty “out–there” creations, decided to do a collaboration with Rapa, the Delaware meat–product producer.  Rapa happens to be the world’s largest producer of scrapple, so it would stand to reason they had a few spare loaves to send over to Dogfish Head for an experimental “Beer–for–Breakfast” concept.  Beer For Breakfast, which was originally released in 2014 (and is periodically re–released) is rated at 7.4 percent ABV and 30 IBUs.

Also from the same state (what is up with scrapple–nerds in Delaware?) The Painted Stave distillery created an “off–the–hoof” vodka imbued with scrapple essence and flavor through the use of real scrapple during the distilling process.  The tipple is rumored to be blessed with a slight sage–and–peppercorn flavor to accompany the scrapple flavor.  

To enjoy scrapple like the PA Dutch do, just visit any of the beloved local breakfast joints, and order up a slice and give it a try.  If you like it, and you want to take some home, then you can pick some up at any of our local grocery stores.  Kurt Kolaja spent significant time at Stoltzfus Meats, a grocery–eatery in the village of Intercourse that actually creates their own scrapple, but you can also look for other local producers like Kunzler, or John F. Martin, and of course if you don’t mind expanding your horizons outside Lancaster County, you can always pick up a “macro–scrapple” from Rapa.  

— Clinton Martin