2018 Was the Year of the Pickle

Pickle chips and pickle soft serve reigned supreme this year.

While pickles are hardly a new food — in fact, they have a pretty cool history — it appears America is having a rekindled romance with pickles these days. I’m calling it: 2018 was the year of the pickle. Pickle snacks, pickle beer, pickle-brined chicken, and even pickle soft serve ice cream debuted with considerable briny fanfare this year.

The resurgence of pickles and pickled things has been in the works for a while, though this year we saw an extreme influx of all things pickle.

As Refinery29 wrote earlier this year:

America is experiencing a pickle boom. According to data compiled by Statista from the U.S. Census and Simmons National Consumer Survey, 239.17 million Americans consumed pickles in 2017, and the figure is projected to increase to 245.56 million by 2020. A 2016 report by Technavio entitled “Global Pickles Market 2016-2020,” states that the global pickle market was valued at $11.02 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach a value of $12.74 billion by 2020. In America, the 2015 pickle market was valued at $5.36 billion, and is expected to reach $6.70 billion by 2020. This increase is also reflected by data from Pinterest revealing that saves for pickle recipes in 2018 are up 114% year over year. With the current saturation of pickle-flavored products and those monumental consumption stats, I feel comfortable calling it: We have officially reached peak pickle.

The food website Delish did their fair share to elevate the pickle’s status, with recipes for everything from pickle cupcakes, pickle ice pops, pickle guacamole, and even pickle cheesecake.

 

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It’s not just dill pickles, though. America is discovering the deliciousness and health benefits of fermentation in general — kimchi, kombucha, and even artisanal sauerkraut have been gaining in popularity. Why? Americans love to cycle through health buzzwords and diets like pairs of socks, and so all this talk of “gut health” and probiotics in the past two years increased the profile of pickled things.

Jeffrey Yoskowitz of The Gefilteria, who is also a pickle enthusiast and expert, shared, “Fermentation as a big idea has been bubbling below the surface for many years. It still has a way to go, but as the nutritional benefits of fermented foods are being discovered and as people look to more traditional methods of preparing food and discovering deep, rich flavors, they are turning to live-cultures.”

So we know that pickles are popular, and pickles are healthy. But pickles are also incredibly delicious, and many companies found creative ways to include them in products this year, including a few real shockers.

 

 

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There was pickle popcorn, pickle chips, pickle ice pops, and pickle beer. The fast-food chain Sonic also released a pickle-flavored slushie this summer, which was initially met with significant skepticism but won over many customers. And in New York City, pickle soft serve was the splash of summer at Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co. 

 

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So yeah, we ate a lot of pickles, pickle-flavored stuff, and other fermented foods in 2018. As Jake Cohen, Editorial and Test Kitchen Director at The FeedFeed, shared, “This year had everyone’s stomach in a knot. We needed all the probiotics we could get.”

Amen.

Learn more about the history of pickles in America in our short video or try these 15 ways to use leftover pickle juice.

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