We unveil the true joy behind a West Midlands delicacy delighting locals for centuries

They’ve been a delicious treat for people across the West Midlands for centuries and we delve into the reasons this delightful snack is so popular
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The West Midlands is home to a strong culinary heritage. The culinary style may not be widely adopted or to the taste of many. Despite this, the food that so many of us grew up with is part of the tapestry of a rich history dating back many years, and one particularl delicacy certainly hogs the spotlight.

They’ve long been a staple of the region’s food culture, offered alongside hearty pints in local taverns. The humble pork scratching is deeply rooted in the West Midlands industrial past, dating back to the 1800s.

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As the region industrialised, workers sought out affordable, calorie dense food to sustain themselves. Families would get their pig skin - often from pigs raised at home, boil it to remove the hair, cut it up, and deep-fry it in a pot of fat. The result was a crunchy snack that was cost-effective while offering plenty of flavour.

Pork scratchingPork scratching
Pork scratching

Their association with tradition and identity also plays a role in their popularity. Intrinsic to our heritage - linking current generations with their forebears who worked in the area’s factories and mines.

The emergence of pubs during this period further ingrained pork scratchings in local food culture. Publicans offered them at the bar, complementing the ales and stouts they served. The salty flavour proved to be the perfect accompaniment to a good pint, leading local people to develop a fondness for them.

While they wouldn’t traditionally be considered a health food - the recent wave of interest in protein-rich, low-carb diets has contributed to a resurgence in their popularity elsewhere. Today, they’re sometimes even marketed as a guilt-free alternative to crisps and other carb-heavy snacks.

Rebecca in Birmingham shares with us her love of pork scratchingsRebecca in Birmingham shares with us her love of pork scratchings
Rebecca in Birmingham shares with us her love of pork scratchings
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Admittedly you couldn’t be blamed for thinking a mix of pig skin and lard would be a somewhat acquired taste in an age where more elegant and exotic food is so readily available. Do people here in the heart of England still hold much regard for this iconic regional snack?

Rebecca says: “I do and they’re very special treat because you know, I think if you ate them every day… I think you’d be the size of a house! But I absolutely love them. So yes, I do still eat them and really enjoy them.“

Justin says: “I used to eat them. I don’t eat them anymore. When I did eat them - yeah, they were nice. Crunchy. Salty. Good with beer. Good snack.”

Jason says: “Yeah, I’ve tried it before. It’s not a snack that I particularly have or will buy, but yeah it’s alright...” Emma says: “We’ve never tried pork scratchings and we don’t want to either. We’re vegetarian!”

George and Emma in Birmingham tell us they are vegetarian and cannot each pork scratchingsGeorge and Emma in Birmingham tell us they are vegetarian and cannot each pork scratchings
George and Emma in Birmingham tell us they are vegetarian and cannot each pork scratchings
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For better or worse, pork scratchings possess a strong history here, tied closely to the region’s economic and cultural development. Arising from habits of frugality and resourcefulness, since becoming a beloved part of the region’s culinary identity. In many ways it could be said their enduring popularity pays testament to the resilience, adaptability and character of people here in the West Midlands.

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