The new pork rind
Korean Kimchi BBQ, Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper, and Pineapple Ancho Chile are trendy tastes, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them featured in beef jerky or potato chips. Those flavors are some of the new varieties of Southern Recipe Small Batch pork rinds — a real departure for a popular snack that hasn’t seen much change.
Southern Recipe Small Batch, a division of Rudolph Foods, is taking the pork rind where it has never ventured. Pork skin has been considered a delicacy for thousands of years, and the pork rind has been a favorite snack, particularly in the South, for decades. While other areas of the snack food world have chased bold new flavors, pork rinds have stayed largely the same. Until now.
“What people expect out of their food is changing, and we really think the Small Batch recipe and flavors — the whole brand, really — fits what consumers want,” says Mark Singleton, vice president of marketing and sales.
Singleton credits his product development team for finding flavors that are popular in today’s food industry and bringing them to the company’s pork rinds. The Kimchi BBQ and pineapple ancho chile, in particular, were natural candidates to be included in this new offering.
“Sweet and hot is so good on so many things, and it had not been done on pork rinds,” Singleton says. “The category really has not had (new flavors) for decades. Plain, hot, BBQ, salt and vinegar, and some Hispanic varieties like habañero or jalapeño, but nothing had been done like the chips or popcorn that has been driving a lot of consumer interest.”
The Small Batch pork rinds debuted as a regional test in Texas late 2016. What was to be a year-long test expanded to a general release after the products flew off the store shelves faster than anticipated. Along with the variety of flavors, the Small Batch pork rinds have 40 percent less salt.
Small Batch has been giving thousands of bags of its pork rinds at 5K races, festivals and other public events to raise awareness. Singleton says that there are many “undercover” pork rind lovers out there — people who eat the product but don’t let their friends know that they eat the product. Small Batch, thanks to the flavor and health attributes that people don’t normally associate with pork rinds, is helping to bring a niche snack into the mainstream. Then there are the triatheletes, marathon runners and others who are focused on protein intake, Singleton says.
“These people know about us,” he says. “They knew about us before, but the great thing about Small Batch is that we’re bringing something that they were eating for a purpose, but now we’re giving them a genuinely interesting eating experience.”