For most of the last few decades, pork rinds fell into the realm of the ultra-déclassé. But the low-carb fad turned the fried pork-skin strips into a respectable snack among New York Times-reading dieters. The growth of the Latino population brought chicharrones out of the convenience store and into mainstream groceries. And San Francisco's Ryan Farr has turned the guilty pleasure SFoodie's parents used to call "cracklins" into an eco-foodie favorite.
Earlier this week, Business Week ran a fascinating story about how pork rinds are made. The article's main narrative -- the battle between the country's two biggest producers -- is of mild interest. The good stuff's in the dozens of "OMGreally?" details: that 60 percent of the skins from the 100 million pigs slaughtered annually in America are made into gelatin; that raw pork skins have gone up in price because rendered pork fat is used for biodiesel; that the first President Bush is a hero to the pork-rind industry for some publicity stunt he did back in the 1980s.
The description of how pork rinds are made -- industrially, at least
-- will either have you swearing off pig for the rest of the week or,
like SFoodie, heading out to the convenience store to pick up a pack.