In March we debuted West Coast Scrapple at Philadelphia’s ScrappleFest 2011 in the Reading Terminal Market,
For decades our family has sat in homes in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the west coast enjoying our homemade scrapple for holidays and special occasions. To us, scrapple is for all events – federally recognized, or contrived as an excuse to enjoy another loaf. The discussion would often turn towards the idea of commercially producing our great recipe we have developed and enjoyed for over 100 years since leaving Philadelphia (Harrisburg, PA specifically).
Generations of our kids and their friends have come through our households and been fed the breakfast with the funny name. Many of you will recognize that reluctance in kids to initially tasting the unknown. Like most everyone though, once it reaches their mouths they are hooked. Of course, there are the occasional goofballs who psyche themselves out before ever tasting it and refuse to try it. You know, every family has them . . . they marry in, or have conveniently lost their birth certificate and can’t prove they are related anymore. You have to love them even though they are different. In our family we embrace them because it just means . . . more scrapple for us!
In September 2010 we were sitting around the banks of the Deschutes River in Oregon getting skunked fishing and decided it was time to try marketing our scrapple. As the process evolved from idea to reality we came upon a video of ScrappleFest 2009 in Philadelphia. We started thinking there could be no better place to find out if we really have something special. It would be the perfect venue being in front of people who already know what scrapple is. We could get a real sense of how our recipe stacked up among the well-known and popular brands around the country. As it turned out, everything fell into place and we were accepted as a vendor for the March 2011 event.
At that point everything was set in motion and we scrambled to secure the necessary permits and applications from the State of Oregon and their Department of Agriculture. We were cleared to produce in a commercial kitchen facility in Portland in late February and only had approximately three weeks to apply the family recipe to a commercial production environment. We had lots of issues to overcome to ensure the end product was up to our stringent quality standards . . . meaning, it had to taste just like our homemade family recipe!
We have the Pike Place Market (PPM) in Seattle which is an historic farmers market and destination point for people from all over the world. The Reading Terminal Market (RTM) could be described as Philadelphia’s version of the PPM on steroids. Honestly, as a confessed food marketphile, the Reading Terminal Market is unequaled in variety and selection. Situated on a whole city block next to the convention center in downtown Philadelphia, if you were able to pick a place to be stranded this would be it. All your needs would be met.
Aside from the enormous selection of fresh foods and ethnic choices, the real measure is in the community atmosphere created by those who work and patronize the market. The energy created by this community is nothing but vibrant and welcoming. The staff, Marketing Coordinator Sarah Levitsky and General Manager Paul Steinke, in particular, introduced us to numerous vendors and volunteers throughout and they were glad to tell their stories of their connections to the market. We set up our serving space and prior to the 10 am start we explored the entire market like kids in Disneyland. In that time, nephew Michael identified every place and item he was going to eat for the next three days.
The market started to fill up with people after 9 am and with them the noise level and aisle activity increased. At 10 am we started serving scrapple and by noon the entire market seemed shoulder to shoulder people. Sarah had said Reading Terminal Market receives approximately 22,000 visitors on any given Saturday. It felt like they all showed up for scrapple at the same time!
It actually turned out great because the line would be stalled right in front of us and people were able to give us feedback in detail of what their scrapple experiences were, how and when their family cooked/prepared it, etc. We were somewhat of a novelty item being from the west coast and producing their beloved comfort food. Like detectives, our authenticity was questioned till they would rightfully conclude that our blood must include Pennsylvania DNA . . . (a move from Harrisburg, PA to the state of Washington in the early 1900’s). We would initially hear such comments as, It can’t be scrapple without organ meat and, They really make scrapple in Portland? Their skepticism was quickly quelled by their taste buds. Some would take a few steps on their way and turn around to let us know how much they enjoyed our scrapple. Many would bring others back to get them to try it . . . or, creatively secure another serving for themselves.
Ultimately we served roughly 1,800 people in just a few hours. Dozens wanted to buy it on the spot or inquired as to where they could buy it locally. Of course, while we contemplate wholesale distribution in the future, at this time we are only selling it online. Sales have started to take off nicely. Many who visited us at ScrappleFest 2011 have ordered product from us since the event.
So thank you Reading Terminal Market and people of Philadelphia for your kindness. From the scrapple Mecca of the country you have enthusiastically accepted West Coast Scrapple and answered the festering family questions of: How good is our scrapple? and Do you think we could sell this stuff?
Finally, if you see my nephew Michael there please send him home, we’ve got work to do! My guess is you will find him blissfully eating a pulled pork sandwich at DiNic’s.
Warmly and happily yours,
P.S. Please share West Coast Scrapple with your friends, and post a comment on our Facebook page so we can get to know each other. Great food is meant to be shared.