Pork skins are the potato chip of the South — an essential regional tradition. Golden Flake, in fact, started as a potato chip company, but branched out into pork skins during the Bear Bryant football era. The old-fashioned pork skins start as dehydrated pork pellets and are popped in the fryer at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, cooked until they are crisped and curled up, then seasoned with salt. We got close enough to hear the pork pellets crackle as they shifted their way up from the frying room to the Sweet Heat BBQ seasoning deck.
Jim, our personal tour guide, has been with Golden Flake for over 30 years and his enthusiasm is contagious. He was proud to share with us that most employees have been there even longer than him. We learned, in between quippy conversations, that while there’s a fair amount of sodium in most savory treats, that pork skins actually are great for sources of fiber and protein.
There are dozens of companies making pork skins across America now, but perhaps none quite as addictive (or iconic) as Golden Flake. You can order Golden Flake’s pork skins online, but a more fun way to get the full experience is to visit the factory in Birmingham and take a tour. You’ll be able to see the entire production process from start to finish, and sample the company’s newer flavors, like Louisiana Hot Sauce or Salt and Vinegar.