Every year my wife’s family and we visit a national park and stay in a large house for a week. The family is wonderful, so we have a blast hiking, hanging with kids, drinking pretty much every day, and of course, cooking for each other.
Last year we visited Rocky Mountain National Park, and while shopping at the Estes Park Safeway, I stumbled upon one of my Drop Everything Foods. You know, you spot a food at the supermarket and, regardless of your plan for that week, you have to buy that food. The list is relatively short for me (it once included Phillies Graham Slam ice cream), but included is pork roll, and in the freezer at the Estes Park Safeway I spotted boxes of pork roll. I bought two.
The next morning I pan-fried a whole bunch of pork roll, introducing it to my Texan family members. They loved it. I told them to eat it with mustard, maple syrup, throw an egg on top, make a sandwich with gouda … whatever. Do it. They couldn’t get enough. Pork roll is amazing. Also, it’s not Taylor Ham, it’s pork roll.
The Trenton Thunder know pork roll – not Taylor Ham – is amazing, and they announced this week that on Fridays starting May 18, they will turn into the Trenton Pork Rolls. They have a fun hat and jersey and will roll out a pork roll mascot. This is wonderful.
It also continues the trend of minor league teams rebranding themselves to honor local food staples. The IronPigs are known for throwing “BACON USA” on its jerseys, then tossing a cartoon strip of bacon on a hat. The jerseys are fly, but I’m surprised they didn’t try a name that rolled off the tongue more, like Sizzles or Sunday Smokes. Anyway, it keeps in line with the IronPigs’ whole brand, and it recognizes northeastern Pennsylvania’s pork-producing prowess.
The Reading Fightin’ Phils have also gotten involved, rebranding themselves the Reading Whoopies for its annual Morning Game, a ridiculously fun event where first pitch is at 9:35 a.m. (June 4 this year), the team serves hot dogs and coffee and hosts a kegs-and-eggs beer-tasting festival. It’s a great way to get people to the ballpark on a Monday.
Reading goes with Whoopies because, according to the Fightins’, “the Whoopie Pie is believed to have originated in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region. They were created by the area’s Pennsylvania German communities and have been handed down from generation to generation.” That makes sense; anything we can do to celebrate the state’s German food heritage is fine by me, even if I totally associate whoopie pies with Maine. Anyway.
The Trenton Pork Rolls announcement opens the door for Reading to really throw it down, however. These squads are relative rivals, battling for some time last year for a playoff spot (Trenton ran away with it late as Reading fell apart). More importantly, we’re talking Yankees and Phillies here, two squads whose fanbases often overlap and battle it out for New Jersey’s loyalty. Trenton fired the first shot by branding themselves Pork Rolls.
Reading, I have one word for you: Scrapples.
How has this not been done? How has Reading (or Lehigh Valley, but let’s go with Reading here) not branded themselves the Scrapples for at least one game? We’re out here celebrating whoopie pies when the most iconic Delaware Valley specialty is just lying here waiting to be swallowed up (with ketchup or discount syrup, please). The Wilmington Blue Rocks paid tribute to scrapple in 2010, which is smart because the biggest scrapple producers are located in Delaware. But Reading can do this. It should do this. It has to do this.
And thanks to Twitter follower Tom C, what better way to do it than to schedule the 2019 morning game for when the Thunder roll into town. Have them wear the Pork Rolls uniforms. Make them bring their mascot. And Reading turns into the Scrapples.
Picture it: You’re flipping scrapple while Trenton brings a cook to flip pork roll. Instead of serving hot dogs, uh, a choice between a scrapple sandwich or a pork roll sandwich. You don’t need to touch kegs and eggs – that’s all good.
You hire folks to dress up as egg mascots (omelet, scrambled, fried, baked) and race around the warning track. You select kids to do a potato sack race, then you shoot hash browns (or sausage or, hell, scrapple) out of hot dog guns. Maybe you have a scrapple-eating contest where the winner gets season tickets. This is writing itself. I’m not even thinking hard.
Meanwhile on the field you have Pork Roll vs. Scrapple in the ultimate battle for breakfast supremacy. Think about the local media who’ll come to this one. Hell, national media will pick it up. The Ringer will write an entire thinkpiece about this because half its staff is from the Delaware Valley. This is a goldmine and I’m just handing it to you, Fightin’ Phils. Become the Reading Scrapples for next year’s morning game. Do it. I will come. I will be the first one in line. I will help flip scrapple. Whatever needs to be done, just as long as you finish what I’m serving.