The sign at the entrance to this Delaware town of 1,550 people reads: "If you lived here, you'd be home now." And if you lived here, about 75 miles east of Washington, you'd also be a resident of the state that is the nation's number-one producer of scrapple, one of the more politically incorrect foods around.

Pork or beef livers? Snouts? Hearts? Fat? Those are the meat scraps that mix with cornmeal, flour and broth to make this traditional breakfast product attributed to the Pennsylvania Germans. And those ingredients are what passersby here in Bridgeville can smell a block away five days a week, when the RAPA Scrapple factory is "cooking." Even aside from the aroma, RAPA, which claims an 85 percent market share in the Washington area, is hard to miss. It's the sign, a huge facsimile of the colorful RAPA label, that does it: red, white, blue and jumping out at motorists snaking through Bridgeville's curving main drag.

The area around Bridgeville has at least five scrapple plants, including Kirby & Holloway Provision Co. in nearby Harrington, which produces sausage as well as scrapple. But I decided to visit RAPA, a couple of decades older than Kirby & Holloway and many tons of scrapple larger. Management does not release sales figures, but RAPA may be the largest-volume scrapple producer in the world. That's a lot of scraps.

RAPA stands for Ralph and Paul Adams, who are long gone from the company they founded in 1926 (see box below). My escort was RAPA plant manager and spokeswoman Donna Seefried, who took me, in white smock and hairnet, into the "hydro flaking room." All the meat coming into the plant is frozen for reasons of food safety, and this room is where 50-pound frozen blocks of it are broken up, ground and placed in tubs.

Then, in the huge kitchen, meat scraps are cooked in 1,000-pound-capacity stainless-steel pots for about 1 1/2 hours, after which excess liquid is extracted and broth, cornmeal and spices are added. The aroma of sage wafts through the room, making a summer day seem like Thanksgiving.

More cooking, then the scrapple is pumped into the "fill room" and piped into one- and two-pound molds. After an overnight chilling, the now-firm scrapple will be popped from the molds with an air gun and then vacuum-wrapped. Spokeswoman Seefried estimates that RAPA can process anywhere from 33,000 to 48,000 pounds of scrapple daily.

"Our busiest season is September to February," says Seefried, explaining that scrapple is essentially a cold-weather product. During that time, more specifically from the end of November until the first week of February, RAPA will send scrapple elsewhere in the country by UPS second-day air. "We started doing it as a favor for people," says a company employee. "It's not something we want to get into big-time." (The gift package is a box of 12 one-pound packages of Our Original Scrapple--what RAPA employees call "straight RAPA." The box costs $20.50, and the shipping costs $30 to $45, depending on the recipient's Zip code. Payment must be made in advance; the company accepts no credit cards. For further information, write Ralph and Paul Adams, Inc., P.O. Box 219, Bridgeville, Del. 19933; or call 302-337-8208.)

So who eats all this scrapple? Lacey Wilson, owner of the Florida Avenue Grill in Northwest Washington, says his restaurant goes through about 200 pounds of scrapple--tagged at $2.95 for a generous serving--each week. On Capitol Hill, Jimmy T's includes a side order of scrapple on its all-day breakfast menu. "We sell a lot of it," says owner Cynthia Foster, who admits there is more demand for sausage and bacon. A few blocks away, Eastern Market's Market Lunch dispenses eggs and scrapple for $2.25.

In Arlington, Bob and Edith's offers myriad scrapple possibilities. A side order is $1.85, and you can go, er, whole hog with the scrapple breakfast, which comes with two eggs, home fries or grits, toast and jelly, all for $4.55. According to headwaiter Donald O'Higgins, 85 percent of Bob and Edith's customers like their scrapple done "nice and crispy."

The venerable Tastee Diner in Silver Spring serves scrapple with eggs, in omelets and in sandwiches. "It's very popular," says Tastee's Emily Webb. "We sell a lot of it each day." An a la carte serving is $1.50.

Susan Straughen, co-owner, with her husband, John Nichols, of the Teddy Bear bed and breakfast in Bridgeville, serves RAPA scrapple in particular, because "the seasoning is just right." Straughen likes her scrapple with ketchup. Others prefer mustard, or even syrup.

Scrapple is anything but politically correct, or for the calorie-conscious. Depending on the type, a two-ounce serving has 110 to 130 calories, three to nine grams of fat and 25 to 30 milligrams of cholesterol.

Fans discuss scrapple's charms on the Internet (check out, for instance,, arguing over how to cook it. Straughen recommends placing slices of scrapple in a cold Teflon skillet, turning the flame to medium and cooking it for about 20 minutes to a side. Other chefs use a shorter cooking time, depending on the thickness of the slices. Some people bake or broil it, or combine the meat with bread crumbs or rice and stuff it into peppers. At least one home cook cuts scrapple into bite-size cubes and rolls each piece in a half strip of bacon, fastens each with toothpicks and broils it until crisp, about six inches away from the heat, and serves it on toast squares.

Scrapple can be frozen for up to six months, but experts recommend slicing the meat beforehand and rewrapping it tightly. Otherwise it will crumble when thawed and sliced.

Priced around $1.60 a pound, scrapple is available in Washington area supermarkets.

For the full scrapple experience, though, newcomers may need Bridgeville's annual Apple-Scrapple Festival. Held the second weekend of October (Oct. 9-10 this year), the two-day event is co-sponsored by RAPA and T.S. Smith Apple orchards. As many as 20,000 visitors converge on Bridgeville, park outside the town and take a horse-drawn shuttle to the festivities. Volunteers from the Bridgeville Senior Center serve lots of scrapple sandwiches, and there are antique tractor pulls, dancing, carnival rides, arts and crafts. Then there's the scrapple-sculpting contest. One year David Blackwell, of nearby Seaford, Del., captured first prize by carving a two-pig band from a one-pound block of scrapple. Until a few years ago, festival activities included a tour of the RAPA plant, but liability concerns made the company discontinue this. Celeste McCall is a Washington freelance writer. Focusing on What They Do Best

RAPA stands for Ralph and Paul Adams, who established the company in 1926. In 1981 it was sold to Ted Jones of Jones Dairy Farm in Fort Atkinson, Wis., which retained the family moniker. The Bridgeville facility employs 44 workers (the parent company in Wisconsin has 250). RAPA turns out a number of scrapple varieties including "Our Original," "Hot & Spicy" and "With Bacon," plus corned beef hash. They also makes Habbersett ("Philadelphia's favorite"), Jones' Scrapple and some private labels.

Last year, RAPA test-marketed two new products, chili and creamed chipped beef. Both flopped. "People think of chili as coming out of a can," explains plant manager and spokeswoman Donna Seefried, not something molded and wrapped in plastic. "As for the chipped beef, apparently people prefer to make their own. We decided we would concentrate on what we do best, making scrapple." CAPTION: Bridgeville's RAPA scrapple factory touts its product to the passing world. CAPTION: Allen Sampson of RAPA scrapple company feeds meat scraps into a "flaker" or grinder before cooking.