Livermush is a Southern United States pork food product prepared using pig liver, parts of pig heads, cornmeal and spices. It is a regional cuisine that is common in Western North Carolina, and is typically consumed as a breakfast and lunch food. It has been suggested that livermush derives from scrapple. By law in North Carolina, the product must consist of at least 30% pig liver. Several festivals exist in North Carolina that are dedicated to the food.

A pound of sliced, pan-fried livermush garnished with parsley

Though sometimes considered the same as liver pudding, livermush generally contains more cornmeal and is coarser in texture.[1] It is generally prepared using a different recipe than for liver pudding.[2]


Livermush is composed of pig liver, pig head parts such as snouts and ears, cornmeal and seasonings.[1][2][3] It is commonly spiced with pepper and sage.[1] The meat ingredients are all cooked and then ground, after which the cornmeal and seasoning is added.[4] The final mixture is formed into blocks which are then refrigerated.[4] It typically has a low fat content and a high protein content.[3]

It is a regional cuisine that is commonly found in the western part of North Carolina, as well as being noticeably present in central North Carolina.[5][6][7] It is also consumed in other parts of the state, and is available in some areas in other states as well, such as Georgia, Virginia and areas in Florida.[1] Livermush is mass-produced in Shelby, North Carolina by two meat packing companies, Jenkins Foods and Mack’s Liver Mush and Meat Co., who distribute it to various states.[1][8]

It is cooked by cutting a slice off of a premade loaf and frying it.[3][9] At breakfast it is served alongside grits and eggs.[1] For lunch it can be made into a sandwich with mayonnaise, grape jelly[10] or mustard, either fried, or left cold.[5] As livermush's popularity has risen, it has appeared as an ingredient in dishes such as omelettes and pizzas.[11][12][13]


It has been suggested that livermush derives from scrapple, and likely originated from German settlers who traveled south through the Appalachian mountains in the 1700s.[3][5] In the 1930s and 1940s, a five-pound portion of livermush cost around 10 cents.[3] Today, by law in North Carolina, genuine livermush must consist of at least 30% pig liver.[3][9]


Shelby, North Carolina hosts an annual Livermush Exposition, which began in 1987 to celebrate the unique delicacy.[3] In that year the Cleveland County Commissioners and the Shelby City Council passed resolutions proclaiming that "livermush is the most delicious, most economical and most versatile of meats."[2] Other towns in North Carolina that have livermush festivals include Drexel and Marion.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Clevenger, Kelli H. (11 January 2016). "The Liver Mush Mystique". Paste. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Poteat, Bill (18 August 2018). "Livermush victim of hateful prejudice". The Gaston Gazette. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g C. Davis, Timothy (22 December 2004). "North Carolina goes hog wild over livermush". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Cook’s Corner: Livermush well-known in some parts of South". February 4, 2014. Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Deutsch, J. (2018). We Eat What? A Cultural Encyclopedia of Unusual Foods in the United States. ABC-CLIO. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-4408-4112-5. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  6. ^ Karon, J.; McIntosh, M. (2004). Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader. A Mitford Novel Series. Viking. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-670-03239-6. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  7. ^ Rhew, Adam (16 September 2016). "In North Carolina, Livermush Still Wins Hearts". Eater. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  8. ^ Orlando, Joyce (16 October 2019). "Mush, Music and Mutts kicks off Saturday in Shelby". The Shelby Star. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  9. ^ a b Frye, J. (2014). Moon North Carolina. Moon Handbooks. Avalon Publishing. p. 411. ISBN 978-1-61238-603-4. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  10. ^ Evans, Bill (31 May 2019). "Carolina Moment: Liver Mush, history to be celebrated". WLOS. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  11. ^ Bashor, Melissa W. (23 February 2015). "Kings of Livermush". Our State. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  12. ^ "Our Products". Neese's Country Sausage. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Cook's Corner: Livermush well-known in some parts of South". Athens Banner-Herald. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  14. ^ Taylor, Charles H. (13 October 1993). "Livermush: Part of Western North Carolina's History (by Michael Goforth) (Extension of Remarks)". The Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 9 February 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2010.

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