Most of the world knows February 3, 2013 as Super Bowl Sunday (or for those companies that don’t want to pay a licensing fee, “The Big Game Sunday”).
Last year, Rudolph Foods, the world’s largest pork rind manufacturer, did something clever. They proclaimed that Super Bowl Sunday would be “Pork Rind Appreciation Day“.
I admit in researching for this blog post I’ve learned more about pork rinds in a few weeks than I’ve known in my entire life. For example, an ounce of pork rinds contains nine times the protein, less fat, and less carbs than potato chips (0% carbs, in fact). Also, 43% of the fat in a pork rind is “healthy” unsaturated fat such as oleic acid, while another 13% is stearic acid, which is saturated but doesn’t raise cholesterol levels.
Don’t get me wrong–pork rinds is hardly a “health food”–there’s still a lot of fat and sodium in them. But they’re definitely a less bad for your health than the phrase “fried pork skin an fat” would lead you to believe.
I had the chance to try out Rudolph’s Southern Recipe pork rinds for myself. I started with their original unflavored variety.
Here’s what one looks like up close and personal.
Believe it or not, this was the first pork rind I’ve ever eaten in my life. I’ve eaten fresh crackling once or twice before when I’ve been at a luau or a wedding banquet with whole roast pigs, and in some cases I’ve come close to breaking teeth. But this was the first fried pork rind I’ve had.
I have to say that I’m a fan. The pork rind was light, crisp and fluffy and had a rich delicious flavor much different than potato chips or corn chips.
I tried out a couple of different flavors. The Hot and Spicy:
This one was extremely salty but had a surprisingly strong kick to it.
Next, I tried the Sweet BBQ:
This one had a classic “down South” taste of a smoky barbecue sauce with a extra tinge of sweetness.
Overall, I’d say my first sojourn into the land of pork rinds was a huge success. As someone who lives in the northeast, I don’t get much of a chance to try them, but I have to say I’m a fan and yes, after years of ODing on potato chips and Doritoes during past Super Bowls, this year I’ll be serving these up. If you’d like to as well, you can order them direct from Rudolph Foods online.
Now of course I didn’t write this post to just share with you my latest gastronomical experiences. Something outstanding that Rudolph Foods does every years is to help a charity in need. This year, they’re helping out The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund (GGAF), which is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides financial grants and medical assistance to retired NFL players in dire need.
When we think of NFL players and contracts, we usually think of those players who have become household names and who command multi-million dollar contracts and millions more in endorsements.
But those players are just a handful of all the players on an NFL team. Did you know that the average career of an NFL player is only 3.3 years? Football is a grueling and at times cruel sport where career-ending and in many cases life-altering injuries can happen at any time.
While salaries these days are quite high, with the average salary being close to $2 million, those thousands of men who played the game in the early years of the game from the 1960’s to the 1990’s weren’t so lucky. A player who played in the 1980’s, for example, might have been lucky to make $200,000 a year. In three years of playing, he might have earned about $600,000. But then once many was spit back into the “real world”, they would find because their whole lives were spent honing their football skills, there were few other skills they could fall back on. Adding insult to injury (literally), many had to deal with disabilities that easily wiped out whatever money they might have saved. Most didn’t get benefits and pensions that today’s players get.
Like an old greyhound, NFL players were often used to make millions upon millions of dollars for the NFL, but then discarded once their usefulness was over. Many of those old players are in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s today. As you’ve no doubt seen in the news, many former NFL players end up struggling both financially and emotionally, with some being pushed to the limits of despair.
The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund was founded by a large and prominent group of hundreds of retired players and coaches to help their former teammates.
When you watch this year’s Super Bowl, remember that it was these former players that built the game into what it is today. They need help.
That’s why I really admire what Rudolph Foods is doing. They’re donating a portion of sales to the Gridiron Greats Foundation, and perhaps more importantly they’re bring awareness to a truly worthy charity.