SILSBEE, Texas — Lynn Briscoe and her family have followed a Super Bowl tradition for years: invite friends and relatives over to watch the game, talk about which is the funniest commercial and cook a raccoon.
“It’s delicious. If you haven’t eaten one, you don’t know what you’re missing,” said Briscoe, who has eaten raccoon all her life.
Super Bowl Sunday is a day when many people, including those who don’t know a touchdown from a first down, plan parties where they serve an assortment of food. In many Southeast Texas homes, that includes raccoon.
“Super Bowl weekend is one of my busiest times. I can sell 300 to 500 before the weekend is over,” said Ivy Jackson, owner of Silsbee Quality Meat Market & Smoke House.
What’s expected to be a busy week leading up to the Super Bowl on Feb. 6 will be the highlight of what has already been a busy raccoon season.
“This year has been crazy,” said James Drake, owner of Bo’s Meat Market in Jasper, Texas, where roughly 3,500 raccoons have been sold since the start of raccoon trapping season Nov. 1.
“The word is out. There’s a lot of new people buying this year,” Drake said by telephone from Jasper.
Jackson has sold about 3,000 raccoons at his market since early November. He expects to sell another 4,000 before trapping season ends April 5.
He’s sold raccoon to customers from Houston, Dallas, Beaumont and Lufkin in Texas and all parts of Louisiana.
Part of the appeal of raccoon meat could be its cost. Raccoons generally are sold three for $12. “It’s cheap meat,” Jackson said.
Don’t think the low price means customers aren’t discriminating.
“If it doesn’t have the feet attached, I can’t give it away. People want the feet attached to know they’re getting a real raccoon,” Jackson said.
Raccoons, which are stored frozen and away from other meat, are sold skinned with their heads, feet and tails attached. Meat markets and other dealers must have a license from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to sell raccoons because they are fur-bearing animals.
Raccoons are known carriers of the rabies virus, and raccoon meat sold in licensed markets is not inspected. Those who occasionally dine on raccoon meat say any risk of contracting rabies through consumption seems unlikely.
“I’ve sold them for the last 10 years and I’ve never known a person to have gotten rabies from eating one,” Jackson said.
Raccoon can be prepared much like any other meat. It can be barbecued, boiled or baked. Briscoe said raccoon tastes best when made with lots of spices and served with sliced sweet potatoes.
Although Briscoe has eaten raccoon meat since she was a child, it’s hardly the mainstay of her diet.
“You can’t eat it that often. It’s real greasy,” she said.
Raccoon meat’s thick texture and strong, greasy taste is one of the reasons raccoon is a dish many families reserve for holidays or special occasions, like Super Bowl Sunday.
For those who haven’t dined on raccoon and wonder what the masked critter tastes like, Jackson tried his best to draw a comparison.
“It sort of tastes like pork,” he said.