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For better or worse, the Internet is a place to explore your secret desires, to make connections and indulge passions that you might be embarrassed to reveal out in the real world.
We're talking about pork rinds, of course.
"Why porkrind.com?" Lee asks rhetorically about his Web site and business by that name. "It's pretty simple. I'm trying to prove that you can sell anything on the Internet."
Less than a month into his virutal venture, the 28-year old software engineer from Austin may be vindicated. From Texas to Michigan and all the way to Vancouver, British Colombia, people are logging on to buy big bags of, to use a clinical term, extruded meat snacks.
Prices start at $10 for two bags, up to $200 for the extremely large pork rind. You can choose from five flavors.
"They're pretty expensive" Lee says cheerfully. "But there are people who've got to have something cool from Texas. We'll ship them right to their house."
Despite the light, fluffy subject, there's serious business savvy behind the porkrind saga, and even a little pain.
Lee is a Michigan native who got tired of snow and saw the movie Slacker, which is set in Austin. "I wanted to live the slacker lifestyle, so I came here." he says.
He joined a rock band, but also got a serious day job with a software company. Soon he was dreaming of making big bucks as an Internet consultant.
"But I don't have any experience in that," he says "So I thought I'd make my own experience."
He found something nobody else was selling, with a domain Web site address that nobody else had snagged. Then he had spinal surgery, which earned him six weeks off with pay.
"If you're starting a business, I recommend ou find a friendly doctor to put you on short-term disability for a few weeks," Lee says
He used the time to find a supplier, design greeting cards, arrange billing and shipping, and design a Web site full of quirky links. Should you ever need to write a term paper on pork rinds, Lee can transport you to pork rinds around the world, nutritional propaganda about pork rinds, pork-rind poetry, even a recipe for kosher pork rinds (chicken fat is the key here).
He's still not quitting his day job. But the self-proclaimed porkmaster is already looking forward to the day he can stride up to a potential client and proclaim, "Look, you've got something good to sell. If I can sell pork rinds, I can help you sell that."
In the mean time, he's pondering expansion.
"I'm in negotiations with the owner of beefjerky.com" says the porkmaster.
Porkrind.com is mentioned in this book
Offbeat Food : Adventures in an Omnivorous World by Alan Ridenour. Copyright © 2000
Fourth in Santa Monica Press's internationally acclaimed Offbeat series, Offbeat Food explores the unusual, unexpected, and extraordinary aspects of food and food culture. Everything from food American style to psychotropic bread to the oddities and delights of the international palate is covered in this "foodie" smorgasbord. Hours of robust entertainment await even the finickiest gourmet in this unique book. Alan Ridenour's "postmodern" popular foodlore primer is guaranteed to start--and end--countless tableside conversations and arguments.