TikTok's Picklegate Is Coming For Your Favorite Jarred Cucumber

Pickles are having a serious moment right now — from all the unexpected pickle-flavored snack trends to the wildly popular pickle jar sweatshirt, the crunchy, tangy snack is soaking in the spotlight. But recently, TikTok has discovered a strange pattern in how companies label them, which people across the internet have called, #Picklegate. TikToker and concerned parent @jessebanwell shared with followers that their jar of pickles in the fridge did not have any mention of the word "pickle" on the lid or label. This raised the question: Is there an official reason that various brands don't describe their pickled products as pickles on the packaging? Inspired by this fascinating discovery, users across pickletok checked their jars and sure enough, found that many do not have the word "pickle" on their labels.

User @seansvv analyzed the multiple definitions of pickles, as well as the styles of pickles on the USDA website. While they hoped that the understanding of a pickle would be simple, the findings turned out to be much more complicated, with various definitions depending on the type of brine and the pickling process. Surprised viewers shared their discoveries in the comments, with one user reporting, "'Pickle' is all over Claussen's site, but nowhere on their jars." One commenter admitted, "I always assumed pickling was the action & we just colloquially call pickled cucumbers pickles." Remembering that the pickling process applies to many other foods besides cucumbers, we could be one step further to uncovering the mysteries of #picklegate.

Some will argue that pickles do not exist

Before you head to your fridge to conduct your own investigation, consider that the crisp, tangy snack is actually not a pickle at all. In fact, some people claim that there is no reason to compare research on what defines a pickle because there is no such thing as a "pickle." Users on Reddit argue that "to pickle" is a verb, and cannot be accurately used as a noun. By this reasoning, all pickles would actually be called "pickled cucumbers," the same way we refer to "pickled eggs" or "pickled beets" that undergo the same process. While this argument may make some sense, the common understanding of "a pickle" deriving from a cucumber is recognized pretty universally, even by USDA standards.

To get extremely technical about what really counts as a pickle, we have to consult the USDA's Standards for Grades of Pickles and note the legal labeling process. The USDA clarified labeling requirements with Today, informing concerned pickle eaters that "appropriately descriptive terms, or when the nature of the food is obvious, a fanciful name commonly used by the public for such food," can meet the "statement of identity" requirement. Many pickle companies may assume that their product is obvious, given that you can see the pickles through the clear jar. Therefore they can instead use food descriptors like "dill chips" or "spicy spears" to more clearly define what makes that particular pickle product unique.