What Is Scrapple? And *Gulp* What’s It Made Of?

What is scrapple? I am delighted to have the pleasure of introducing you to the king of breakfast meats. Read on to find out the answer to questions like, what’s scrapple made of, where did scrapple originate, and what does it have to do with something called livermush. 

I have been waiting for this day since I was hired to write for Sporked. The day when, finally, Sporked’s editor-in-chief Justine Sterling said, “Luke, it’s time. The day for scrapple is now.” More than soft pretzels, more than Tastykakes, and—shocking, I know—more than cheesesteaks, scrapple is my favorite food from the Philadelphia area. When I go back to visit, my mom asks me what I would like to have to eat while I am home. Top of the list, every single time, is scrapple. Please, indulge me as I take you on a journey of the world’s greatest breakfast meat.

What is scrapple?

Scrapple is a pork-based meat product that is officially classified as a “mush.” Mush is a cornmeal-based pudding that is boiled, set, and then sliced and often pan-fried. There are mushes out there that are more breadlike, but scrapple is meaty.

Scrapple basically looks like a gray meatloaf. You slice it and fry it in a pan. As it cooks, the outside turns crispy and brown while the center stays soft. It’s most commonly served as a breakfast meat. Lots of people I know eat it with ketchup, but I’ve also seen it with mustard or slathered in something sweet like jelly or apple butter.

What is scrapple made of?

Scrapple is made from “scraps” of pork: heart, liver, head, and the trimmings that don’t make it into other processed meats. Everything is chucked into a pot and boiled; the bones and fat are removed; and the meat is minced. That meat is added to a cornmeal and flour mush and well seasoned with things like salt, pepper, thyme, and sage.

Where did scrapple originate?

Scrapple has a unique association with the Pennsylvania Dutch, a German ethnic group who immigrated to the United States starting in the 17th century. Initially settling in and around Lancaster, Pennsylvania, they eventually spread west into Ohio and Indiana and south into Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland. The Amish and Mennonites are subsections of the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Scrapple evolved out of farming ingenuity and resourcefulness. Farmers didn’t want to let any bit of the hog go to waste. In 1863, a man named Isaac S. Habbersett brought scrapple to the commercial world and to this day, Habbersett scrapple is the dominant brand on the market.

What is livermush?

Livermush is a scrapple lookalike that originates from North Carolina and is popular throughout the South. I have never had it before, but based on its description it sounds like the exact same thing as scrapple, just with a worse-sounding name. But that won’t stop me from enjoying it.

What does scrapple taste like?

Look, I am not going to pretend that scrapple isn’t a polarizing food. Even members of my extended family who grew up around it still don’t like it. But to me, it is perfect. The outside is crispy brown and the inside is soft, creating a textural dichotomy that is wonderful.

Scrapple combines the crispiness of bacon and the spiced flavor and soft texture of a breakfast sausage, but with none of the heaviness or grease that come with either of those. And when I say spiced I mean it with a capital S; it transcends the taste of meat to something far more complex. 

It does get a lot of nostalgia points for me because I grew up eating it. But I have yet to encounter any other food that is quite like scrapple. It is so entirely unique and delicious that I believe nothing can compare to it. If you’re ever on the east coast, particularly Pennsylvania, Delaware, or New Jersey, do yourself a favor and try it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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  • I won’t get into my opinions on scrapple personally, but my grandma and my best friend loved it, and they both ate it with maple syrup.

    Reply
  • By speaking the words scrapple and Tastykake, I know you are for real a fellow PA native. Please also discuss Birch Beer and Teaberry ice cream.

    Reply