It all started with crappy snacks. I’m Nick Hinton, the Owner, Founder, and general Pork Lord here at Hinton’s Pig Chips. If you will, please allow me to tell you a bit about how this all came about.
In mid-March 2017, I had just begun trying to follow a ketogenic diet. I was struggling. HARD. I was soooo over gas station pork rinds, and the typical cracklin fare was all pretty much the same. They were generally a bit too hard, they weren’t all that substantial, and the flavors left plenty to be desired…as the only real flavor option was “super salty, sorta spicy mouth torture”.
I set about on a mission to locate some different cracklins, and came across some at the grocery store I frequent. The packaging and style was WAY different than what I was used to, so I felt a good amount of promise that I had found what I was after. I got the snacks home and eagerly tore into them, expecting a little bit of mouth pleasure when I needed it most, being that my sweet tooth was fighting hard for my attention.
Disappointment set in almost immediately. They were absolutely too hard to eat, they were exceptionally greasy, and they didn’t taste like…..well, anything. Having eaten fresh porkfat cracklins in the past, and knowing what I know of pork and porkfat, I tossed them into a pan to render out a bit more of that grease, and hopefully crisp them up into a consumable item. I also decided to spice them up a little to make them a bit more palatable, just kinda winging it.
When the dust settled and the lard cooled, I wound up with something that totally knocked my socks off. Immediately, my wheels started spinning, fantasizing and wishing there was a portable, crispy pork snack more similar to a traditional chicharron (I’d fallen in love long ago with the thick slabs of desiccated pork skin/fat/meat found at most standard carnicerias, when exposed to them by my Honduran in-laws) than a typical pork cracklin.
I forced my wife to try some, a practice she’d grown weary of over the years, as I prepared many a meal that was over-salted, over-seasoned, and just generally not that great. This time, her reaction was quite different. Not only did she enjoy them, but she told me that she “would totally spend money on these.” To me, that was as good as asking me to sell them to her. Given that we reside in the same household and pooled income to cover the same bills, that didn’t exactly strike me as a solid business model.
The next day, I took my Frankenstein creation to work to get some feedback from a few friends, and the response was unanimous- I’d actually turned something terrible into something that people got EXCITED about when they tasted them. That sealed it for me.
That very same day, as soon as I punched out for the afternoon, I went directly to arguably the highest-end meat market in town, looking for some raw skin. I’d decided to take my experiment one step further. Somehow, I managed to talk the butcher into ruining a perfectly good slab of (incredible quality) pork belly by skimming off the skin, a thick layer of fat, and a little bit of meat still attached.
I got everything home, recreated a large amount of the seasoning blend I’d created, and magic happened. I didn’t know what I was doing, never having worked in a kitchen environment or received any legitimate training, but it was like the whole thing was meant to be. The first batch was beyond amazing. It blew nearly everything I’d ever eaten out of the water! Pamela, my wife, and of course all my work-buddy test dummies agreed.
I set out to work over the next few weeks, refining and perfecting my process, buying more and more pork skin and stinking up my house with the (to me, delightful) smell of rendering pork fat and pushing my tasty little creations on my wife, my kids, and my friends. People were excited, and so was I! Again, totally fumbling about in the dark, I found an affordable packaging solution, came up with a catchy name, refined my process further, added some new seasoning options, and was generously offered the chance to use the restaurant kitchen a buddy’s business was also using.
His vegan BBQ offering inspired me to seek out a vegan cracklin alternative (because exclusion is for suckers), and Hinton’s Vegan Crunchies were born almost immediately in the wake of the birth of Hinton’s Pig Chips. They’re really good, too.
Through the unwavering support and encouragement of my incredible wife, kids, and friends, I continued cooking my skins every single week, and started selling them in farmers markets and local natural food grocers, and a couple of local boozeries, and to date, we haven’t let up yet. We won’t, either.
I truly hope you love them half as much as I love making them, and I also hope you can taste just how much love and care goes into each and every batch, pork and soy alike. Food brings people together, because at the heart of good food is love. That very same love is what drives my family and I to keep pushing through, braving uncharted waters, and delivering you what we hope will be the best rendered pork (and plant-based!) snacks you’ll ever eat.
Peace and ALL the Love,