The first official National Pickle Day was celebrated on November 14, 2001, in New York City, and it has been celebrated annually (and nationally) since. Pickled cucumbers are thought to date back to 2030 BC, when the soft-skinned melons were imported from India into the Tigris Valley and salted to allow them to survive the journey. Preserving other foods in vinegar or brine is thought to date back even further though, to the Mesopotamians.
This tasty snack is a good source of Vitamin K and is low in calories. Cleopatra loved pickles and claimed eating them enhanced her looks, while Caesar fed them to his troops, believing they offered spiritual and physical strength. Hundreds of years later, Napoleon had the same idea and offered a cash price of 12,000 francs to anyone who could preserve them safely. In the 1600s, cucumbers were pickled at home and commercialized in Virginia. Today there are many types of pickles in various sizes, ranging from sweet to sour, sliced, whole, diced or minced.
A Few Pickle Facts
Americans eat around nine pounds of pickles per person per year, and the most popular kind is kosher dill, largely due to the large numbers of Eastern European Jews who emigrated to New York City in the late 1800s. During World War II, 40 percent of all American-produced pickles were set aside to go in Armed Forces and soldiers' ration kits.
Some famous pickle fans include Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth, Aristotle, Roman emperor Tiberius, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Pickles can be enjoyed as a snack, perhaps with cheese and crackers, or they can be added to hamburgers, hot dogs or sandwiches. Deep-fried pickles (sometimes called frickles) are pretty good too—they're made by battering or breading slices of pickle, then deep-frying them. The word pickle comes from pekel, a Dutch word which means brine.
Pickle juice has also been found to revive exhausted athletes. During a September 2000 game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys in Irving, Texas, temperatures reached 109 degrees — allegedly the hottest game in NFL history. Eagles players reportedly drank pickle juice and ended up with a 41-14 win. A later study confirmed that pickle juice helps to relieve cramping 37 percent quicker than plain water.
Craving candy? Bite into a pickle instead to satisfy your sweet craving. I've tried this, and, yes, it actually works. Don't get in a pickle - bite into a kosher dill!
Where to Dine on Pickles
Everyone has tried pickles, but not everyone has had fried pickles. If you want to get your teeth into this snappy snack, head to Natachee's Supper & Punch in Midtown. This child-friendly café offers a range of burgers, sandwiches, salads and all-American dishes like chicken fried steak, fish and chips and chipotle chicken, along with a range of breakfast and brunch items. If your meal doesn't come with fried pickles, you can order them on the side for just $1.99 or a bigger serving to share for $5.99. The pickles come with ranch dipping sauce on the side and the creamy texture contrasts really well with the tangy fried pickles. Try it, you won't regret it!
How to Enjoy Pickle Day
If you want to get into the spirit of National Pickle Day, consider trying other varieties or flavors of pickles from what you normally have. Try a kosher dill or bite into a half-sour. Some people like to dip dill pickles into chocolate sauce. This might sound strange, but the combination of tart and sweet is really surprising (in a good way)! For sweet cravers, there are koolickles, too—dill pickles steeped in Kool-Aid. If that doesn't appeal to you (and you're not alone), rustle up some burgers or a pastrami or beef sandwich and add sliced pickles in there, or enjoy a deep-fried pickle recipe if you want something with crunch.