Scrapple: A study on branding

Scrapple -- the most mysterious meat you'll ever love.

Known and loved by all good Philadelphians, scrapple is what its name connotes: a conglomeration of the leftover pig parts that can't be used in other pork products. It's gray. It comes in a block. You don't want to read the ingredient list. But you close your eyes and enjoy it all the same.

Why then, you ask, are you waxing poetic about a weird meat byproduct that could possibly withstand a nuclear winter? Because of branding, my friend. You see, I grew up on Hatfield Scrapple, the packaging of which features bright colors, sunshine bursts, and at one time, a smiling pig whose grin seemed to say, "I fully embrace that my life is building to this moment -- to have my offal end up at your brunch."

With such friendly and diverting marketing, I found it easy to ignore scrapple's true nature, and enjoy its deliciousness instead.

Fast-forward to my adult life, which finds me in N. VA, where scrapple is not recognized to exist. I have managed to hold out the last 6 months, but the craving hit this morning: I must have scrapple.

So off I went to Harris Teeter to search, not expecting much. Imagine my surprise when on the shelf, all alone in its own little stack, sat scrapple! It even had a sign under it saying "new item." The timing could not have been better. I was thrilled beyond belief ... until I looked at the package.

Liver mush? LIVER MUSH??? Don't call it what it is, Jenkins! That destroys the necessary suspension of disbelief, punctures the willing ignorance of all die-hard scrapple eaters. First, you put together two words that have negative connotations for most sane people -- liver and mush. Then, you surround it with drab colors and boring design. Where's the happiness?? Where's the distraction?? Where's the manufactured sense of security in actually consuming this product and not inviting death, much less nausea?

So there you have it -- a tale of two scrapples -- proving that branding really can be all in a name. Oh, I cooked it. I ate it. But I wasn't nearly as happy about it -- and that's a lesson I will carry forward for the rest of my communicating days.