Cracklin’ hot

New Market man serves up fluffy pork rinds with a good crisp snap

By Ryan Cornell

NEW MARKET — If there’s anyone who knows what makes the perfect pork rind, it’s Bill Stroupe.

The New Market native has tried samples of pork rind pellets — the quarter-sized chips that blister and bubble as they’re fried — from every supplier in the country, which he said numbers in the 40s.

And, he added, he’s finally found the one with the best flavor and “crunch factor.”

“It’s a fluffy pork rind that’s got a good crisp snap to it,” he said, “but it’s not hard as a brick where you can’t eat it, like a cracklin.”

Making pork rinds had always been a side gig for Stroupe to make some extra vacation money. Today, it’s his sole source of income.

In 2008, he was let go from his job and received a settlement from the company before it was bought out.

He used that money to launch B & C Rinds, and began making and selling fresh pork rinds full time.

Last October, he purchased a trailer custom-fitted to house his various kettles and machines, and went to work building the interior shelving and electrical system.

His wife, Carolyn — the latter half of B & C — typically works at the front of the trailer, seasoning the rinds in 11 different flavors that include plain, barbecue, ranch, sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar, Cajun, extra hot, chili lime, chili cheese, dill pickle and cinnamon sugar.

To make these rinds, Stroupe takes flat pellets and fries them in hot oil for about two to three minutes. This causes them to bubble and swell up to proper size.

Because he uses 100 percent pure soybean oil to fry up his rinds, which has been known to increase levels of heart-healthy HDL cholesterol, he said there’s no need to feel guilty about snacking on them.

His pork rinds contain zero carbohydrates and cholesterol, he said, and very low amounts of trans and saturated fats. In addition, there are about 9 grams of protein in every serving, according to Stroupe.

“Everyone thinks pork rinds are fat,” he said. “Well, no it’s not. It’s just the skin of the pig and nothing else.

“The Atkins diet and Weight Watchers say you can eat as many as you want,” he added.

Fall is a busy season for Stroupe.

Each weekend, he packs up the trailer with equipment and ingredients and heads to a nearby festival.

His pork rinds drew crowds at Mount Jackson’s Music and Harvest Festival last weekend, and he plans to be at Elkton Autumn Days on Saturday and Sunday as well as at New Market’s craft show on Oct. 25 and 26.

At Luray’s Mayfest this past year, he said they went through 18 pounds of barbecue seasoning for their pork rinds in a single day.

Stroupe said they make between 2,000 and 2,500 pounds of pork rinds a year.

The pork rinds sell for $4 a bag.

In addition to selling fresh pork rinds, Stroupe also makes kettle corn, cotton candy, hamburgers, hot dogs and quesadillas out of his trailer. He said his sweet tea rivals that of McDonald’s.

“I run my business how I would perceive it as a customer who sits at the other side of the table,” he said. “I won’t serve to someone else what I’m not willing to eat myself, and that’s just how I’ve always ran it and it’s how I will always run it.”

To purchase a bag online, visit http://www.bandcrinds.com.