What are Luxury Pork Scratchings?
Well let’s be clear about this, pork scratchings have never really been seen as a luxury item.
But strange things are afoot. The recent explosion in craft beer has gentrified the beer market and this is now having a knock-on effect down the pub. The ripples around the bar are becoming waves and these waves are now crashing over the other pub stablemates. Snack wise it was the crisps first, then the nuts and now the humble pork scratching. Let’s not get me started on the Gin explosion!
Pork Scratchings were once the food of the poor. Then they were seen as the food of the drunk (mainly by those who had never tried them!). Now they are increasingly seen as the food of the connoisseur. If you are in the know, you will know your scratchings.
If you are interested why not have a little look at the history of pork scratchings.
What’s the difference between ‘luxury’ and ‘normal’ scratchings?
Luxury pork scratchings may not strictly be the correct term in this case. What we are actually talking about are scratchings which seem to have had a little more thought taken during the development process. Double and triple cooking for a lighter crunch. ‘Sea salt’ instead of ‘salt’ seemed like an easy way for producers to differentiate the one from the other. Flavours like Habanero Chilli, Balsamic Vinegar & Maple must be part of this new wave.
No added ‘MSG’ is now a selling point. Heaven forbid that your scratchings contain something to make them taste nicer. And lastly, there has to be a well-designed logo and bag, this should also help, especially with social media.
Do any of these things make the luxury pork scratchings taste better? Yes, they do, sometimes. Why not click here to take a look at our ‘best pork scratchings’ list. It’s not all traditional scratchings at the top.
Who started this new wave?
Way back in 2007, Mr Porky saw a gap in the market. There was more to a pork scratching that just adding a bit of salt. Mr Porky was the perfect company to fill this gap. They bravely produced both brown and tomato sauce flavoured scratchings (calling them ‘bacon bites’). I remember seeing these at the time, This website was still fairly new. “At last, here’s something different”, I thought.
With hindsight, we can all see that they were definitely on to something. But these new flavours and the child-friendly name didn’t seem to have much impact on the wider market. The public was not quite ready for the revolution. They are sadly no longer available.
Still too soon!
5 years later, in 2102, the first we saw of what we would call a real luxury pork scratching was when Lord Hamilton sent us some of his… ‘Particularly Fine Crackling’. They were nice, new, they had a cool name, the bag was different, and they had some added flavour. But still, the world wasn’t ready for the revolution.
As often happens, history is littered with the people and ideas that were just a little bit ahead of the curve. (Note to self, remember to add some examples ;-)) Lord Hamilton’s Hogskins is now a sidenote to history and sadly no longer produced.
But never fear, we tried them and you can read the reviews: Lord Hamiltons Hogskins, Sea Salt, Particularly Fine Crackling Review / Lord Hamiltons Hogskins, Warm Chilli, Particularly Fine Crackling Review
I always wondered, who was Lord Hamilton? Was he real? Was he branding? I don’t know, perhaps that’s why they didn’t catch on?
Right time, right name, right product?
About the same time as we saw Lord Hamiltons Hogskins, we became aware of Awfully Posh Snacks. They arrived on the scent and made things simple with their ‘Posh Pork Crackling’.
Ah-ha, I see, they are called ‘posh’, there’s a monocle and a moustache on the bag and they are called ‘crackling’, just as I have with my roast dinner… I get it, I’m not scared of these.
To the uninitiated, Posh Crackling is a world away from a dirty old scratching you get in a boozer. At this early stage of the luxury pork scratchings revolution, these were relatable, which may have something to do with why they are still around today.
Standing on the shoulders of giants.
Mr Porky could see that there was a gate in the scratchings fence. Lord Hamilton somehow managed to open this gate, but no one was there to walk through it. Awfully Posh Snacks shone the light down the path. People saw the light. The light that led the way.
So where are we now?
New posh brands have arrived on the scene, including Mr Trotter, Epic Artisinal Pork Skins and Gruntled. These companies make a lighter crackling type scratching, with quality ingredients and flavours. The range of flavours seems to increase each new producer. The basic staple of a salted snack is still there, but wearing a smarter suit. Everyone likes to dip their toe into a pot of chilli, from the warmth of jalapeno on to habanero, and all the way up to the suicidal naga ghost chilli.
Chilli and Roasted Garlic, Anglesea Sea Salt, Habanero Chilli, Low and Slow BBQ, Cornish Sea Salt, Cinnamon Churro, Jalapeno Chilli, Texas BBQ, Maple Bacon, Baked Chili & Lime, Pink Himalayan Sea Salt… The list goes on and on. These new and interesting flavours are great, and should not be dismissed. But beware, they often improve the underlying weakness of the simple salted versions.
Are fresh scratchings luxury scratchings?
Yes, fresh scratchings are luxury scratchings, relatively. Any product that’s available as either a fresh product or a product that needs refrigeration rather than on that uses preservatives, would seem to me to be a slightly higher quality item. And as such, I suppose they could be called luxury. Remove the packaging, put them in a bowl or on a plate. Serve to dinner guests. Not trying to be ironic, obviously.
Morrisons sell fresh pork straws. Marks & Spencer produces crackling crisps and straws. But Waitrose takes the crown with their ‘Waitrose World Deli Pork Cracking, Plum, Hoisin Relish‘. Both fresh and posh with a pot of gloop to boot! The dinner party is complete.
Having been a fan of pork scratchings for a fairly long time, I may be biased towards the traditional pork scratching varieties. But that being said, I am more than happy to embrace all aspects of this growing market. I’m always willing to try the next thing, the new thing, the thing I haven’t tried before. This applies to my life in general, not just pork based snacks. I’m more than happy to try them all at least once, how bad can they be? They may be the best scratchings you have ever tried, but you’d never know without trying them. Remember, if you make any type of scratchings and want us to taste/review them, just contact us.
It’s October now, so as we stroll down the aisles of our local supermarket, we can see that we are already being bombarded with festive treats. So my advice, keep your eyes peeled. Bagged or fresh, look out for the luxury pork scratchings. Try them, you might like them. If you do like them, I suggest that you buy some more, much nearer the time. Fresher is better. Then put them out, in a little bowl, for the family to snack on when they come over on Christmas day. “Screw you dips and nibbles!”, Christmas is for Crackling… Luxury Crackling.