Wednesday, May 09, 2007

News from the HELL NO! Department

Have I ever told you how much I love pickles? I love 'em! Dill pickles are best, followed by sweet pickles, and I'll eat a bread-and-butter every now and then. One of my favorite snacks when I was a kid was dill pickles and chocolate cake, and one of my top five taste treats of all time is the deep fried pickle at the Hofbrau in Interlochen (dill pickle, wrapped in cheese, ham and a wonton, deep fried, served with ranch dressing - you can eat it once a month and then your arteries harden beyond repair). I put pickles on my burgers, in my tuna salad, on deli sammies, next to fried chicken; my FILs bring me a jar of Nathan's Pickles every time they come visit (because I can't find them around here). I effin' love pickles, OK?

But this? This is not OK.

Kool-Aid Pickles Are New Taste Sensation
The New York Times
GREENVILLE, Miss. (May 9) - A gallon jar of pickles sits near the register at Lee’s Washerette and Food Market, a mustard-colored cinder-block bunker on the western fringe of this Mississippi Delta town.

Those pickles were once mere dills. They were once green. Their exteriors remain pebbly, a reminder that long ago they began their lives on a farm, on the ground, as cucumbers.

But they now have an arresting color that combines green and garnet, and a bracing sour-sweet taste that they owe to a long marinade in cherry or tropical fruit or strawberry Kool-Aid.

Kool-Aid pickles violate tradition, maybe even propriety. Depending on your palate and perspective, they are either the worst thing to happen to pickles since plastic brining barrels or a brave new taste sensation to be celebrated.

The pickles have been spotted as far afield as Dallas and St. Louis, but their cult is thickest in the Delta region, among the black majority population. In the Delta, where they fetch between 50 cents and a dollar, Kool-Aid pickles have earned valued space next to such beloved snacks as pickled eggs and pigs’ feet at community fairs, convenience stores and filling stations. And as their appeal has widened, some people have seen a good business opportunity. Even the lawyers have gotten involved.

Children are the primary consumers, but a recent trip through the region revealed that the market for Kool-Aid pickles is maturing.

At Carver Upper Elementary School in Indianola, students in Jodi Sumner’s third-grade class have no reservations about the propriety of cucumbers flavored with vinegar and drink mix. When this writer, lugging a jar of tropical-fruit-flavored pickles, recently asked the 29 students who liked to eat Kool-Aid pickles, 29 hands shot up.

The names came fast: Ladarius, Fredericka and Kobreana, among others. So did the impressions: “It’s a candy pickle.” And “I like it the same as dipping hot Cheetos in ice cream.” And “Have you ever tried one with a watermelon Blow Pop?” followed by a pantomime of how the Blow Pop stick can be inserted so that the candy appears as a knob at one end of the pickle, allowing the eater to alternate between bites of sour-sweet pickle and licks of sweet-sour Blow Pop.

Nobody knows just who first decided that pickles would be improved by a bath in sugared drink mix, or when, but the invention seems to be of fairly recent provenance. Typically, Kool-Aid pickle fans were born some time after Bill Clinton moved into the White House.

Billie Williams, 56, a special-education teacher at Carver Elementary, never saw one when she was a child. But she did eat dill pickles impaled on peppermint sticks, and she remembers how friends sucked the juice from cut lemons through peppermint sticks repurposed as straws. “That’s the same kind of taste,” she said. “Same as how they used to dip pickle spears in dry Kool-Aid mix for that pucker.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Blah blah blah - the article goes on to give a general recipe for making Kool-Aid pickles at home, and closes with the mention of a store manager trying to patent the name Koolickle. I have a feeling that the word Koolickle will haunt my dreams for many nights to come.

Kool-Aid pickles - D- (don't knock it 'till you try it, I guess)


Anonymous said...

I love pickles too and at first was a little shocked by the taste, but after a couple I love them!

equippedtofascinate said...

I still remember my first time eating a deep fried pickle up at Interlochen. I loved it, and I don't even like pickels or bacon.

Bethro said...

I love pickles, but I will NOT be having any KoolAid pickles ever.

Peach said...

I'm intrigued but scared.
It's weird.

Anonymous said...

You're a racist.

Senora Fuerte said...

Not even if I was literally starving!