The sound of a sizzling sausage is one of the great delights of breakfast prep, especially in Britain, where bangers can pop like firecrackers in the pan. They earned their name, so the story goes, during World War I, when meat was in short supply and Brits were forced to fill their bangers with rusk and water to make up for the pork paucity, creating a louder link (and a different taste than American sausages, which are typically sweeter, containing nonfat dry milk powder, among other cloying ingredients). But apparently the “banger” sobriquet isn’t as accurate a descriptor as it once was.
As The Telegraph reports, based on the findings of a food scientist in Wiltshire, England, named Stuart Farrimond, who actually took it upon himself to measure the decibel levels produced by British sausage recipes since 1845, today’s bangers just aren’t as loud as they once were. Farrimond found that the volume of a modern sizzling breakfast banger had decreased by about half since World War II. The loudest sausages, according to his research, were Kentish bangers from the nineteenth century, at 78 decibels, louder than a flushing toilet or a vacuum cleaner but softer than an alarm clock or a garbage disposal; the softest sizzle was produced by the famed Lincolnshire banger, short, plump and flavored with sage, clocking in at 68 decibels, slightly louder than the volume created by normal human conversation or an air conditioner.
That’s still relatively loud, of course, at least compared to other breakfast foods. The volume of sizzling bacon, for instance, clocks in below 55 decibels. Still, the Lincolnshire’s sound is a relatively sissy sizzle. The ostensible reason for the volume decrease, Farrimond tells The Telegraph, is that British bangers don’t contain as much liquid as they once did. "Today, sausages are made with higher quality, leaner pork and less water, meaning they may taste great, but don't quite hit the top notes of sizzle we used to hear in the past," he says.
This news will probably come as a disappointment to food nostalgists, but the upside is that some modern British bangers taste better than they used to, and are healthier to boot.