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What is a ‘Banger’ and how did it get its name?


Have you ever heard the term banger? It is actually an affectionate nickname that was given to sausages in the United Kingdom (UK). The moniker dates back to a time before World War II, around 1919, when meat was scarce. Lacking meat, butchers needed to bulk up their sausages with whatever was available in large quantities; typically, things like animal fat, rusk (a hard dry biscuit), a variety of cereal grains, and just plain old water. Water was the most common because it was the cheapest ingredient they could add.

So how does this relate to the nickname?

Well, what happens when you add water to hot oil in a pan? It jumps and crackles and spits. The added water intended to bulk up the sausages had unintended consequences. The cheap bulk filler expanded rapidly as it heated up, and the skin of the links also shrank during cooking, putting quite a bit of pressure on the expanding filling. So, if the sausages were not pierced before cooking, they tended to explode violently with a thunderous BANG!

What are bangers made out of?

Traditionally bangers are made with pork, occasionally mixed with lamb or beef, breadcrumbs, and seasoned with pepper, thyme, sage, and nutmeg.

Do they still call sausages bangers in the UK?

The term is still widely used when referring to a traditional English breakfast (which typically consists of bangers, black pudding, beans, eggs, British bacon, sautéed mushrooms and pan fried tomatoes) or the beloved dish bangers and mash (which is simply sausages, mashed potatoes, and onion gravy… occasionally including a side of green peas).

That being said, want to make traditional British “bangers” yourself?

Check out this recipe>

Have you ever had a Banger? What did you think?

Let us know in the comments!

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