The Untold Truth Of Vlasic Pickles

How many times have you been at a restaurant with a friend who got a pickle on the side of their sandwich that they didn't want, so they offered it to you? In general, pickles are a popular side and snack, and (according to the company website) Vlasic pickles is one of the most well-loved pickle brands out there. Known around the world for their incredible crunch and lauded quality, they're utilized at barbeques and even just grabbed as a nice snack. Vlasic Pickles are pretty well known and easily recognizable on store shelves. But there are some things you may not know about the highly-regarded brand and its iconic product.

For instance, where does its recognizable mascot come from, how many flavors has it come out with, and did they always make pickles? Who knew pickles were so mysterious? The public may think they know all there is to know about these shelf regulars, but it turns out, there is plenty of surprising information to learn about the company.

What does a stork have to do with pickles?

You may be familiar with Vlasic's mascot, but if you're not, they pepper their labels with images of a stork holding a pickle in a manner similar to the way one would hold a cigar. The stork, which Vlasic itself points out has a voice (and mannerisms) akin to Groucho Marx, is basically an icon in the food world, with his wide and round spectacles, always a Vlasic pickle in hand, and even that top-notch newspaper boy cap. But what exactly does this bird actually have in common with a fermented cucumber?

Mental Floss learned that Vlasic was created in 1912, but the mascot didn't show up until the 1970s. The post-World War II baby boom was easing off, and the company's best-seller, the pickle, utilized the stork as a mascot to bring pickles since "babies were in such short supply!" It didn't hurt that pickles are quite often a popular food craving among pregnant women.

Vlasic didn't start out making pickles

Believe it or not, the country's favorite pickle brand actually started out closer to Ben & Jerry's ouvre than the salty, vinegar-y, savory snack so many of us have come to know and love. According to the Imlay City (Michigan) Downtown Development Association (Imlay City is Vlasic's hometown) Vlasic didn't always devote itself exclusively to the processing of pickles. The company was actually first created as a creamery, selling things like milk and making cheese. According to the Michigan Country Press, they actually became "the state's largest wholesale milk distributorship". The Vlasic website explains that founder Frank Vlasic's son Joe is actually the one who expanded to selling Polish pickles, flavored with dill and garlic. When faced with a pickle shortage during World War II, Joe Vlasic started selling his own pickles in glass jars. After a few years, pickles overtook dairy as the company's best-selling (and, eventually, sole) product, leading to its place as "America's favorite pickle."

In 1978, the company was sold to Campbell Soup Company, and years later to Conagra Brands, but its name's main claim to fame is still their signature item, the pickle.

Vlasic makes actual chips out of pickles

An article in the Detroit Free Press announced in 2019 that Vlasic actually makes pickle chips that are purely pickle. Confusing, right?

These aren't your average pickle chips like the ones in the photo (above) that are merely thin-sliced pickles, but pickles that are even more thinly sliced and dehydrated in a similar manner to potato chips, to deliver that salty, acidic flavor you love in a pickle, but the signature crunch and snackability of a normal chip. They also come in easy snack-size bags.

How are these better than normal pickle chips, you might ask? These vacuum-sealed chips come with less juiciness, so the snack isn't dripping on your lap, which also makes them less slippery and annoying to deal with. Plus, no jar means you don't have to worry about getting your hand stuck or covered in the scent, which, while tempting to the palate, tends to linger far longer than most people would choose.

There are over 15 types of Vlasic pickles

Last year, a writer for Insider had the incredibly lucky and delicious task of tasting 15 varieties of Vlasic pickles in an attempt to rank them from best to worst. While taste may be subjective, the count of pickle varieties is not. 

The brand's offerings include Sweet Gherkins (Regular and No Sugar Added), Kosher Dill Spears (Lightly Salted), Sandwich Dill Chips, Kosher Dill Stackers, Original Dill Wholes, Zesty Dill Spears, Kosher Dill Spears (a classic), Snack'mms Garlic Bites, Kosher Dill Baby Wholes, Zesty Garlic Stackers, Bread and Butter Chips (Regular and No Sugar Added), Kosher Dill Gherkins, and more. 

And while it may be tempting to think that all the similarly named varieties have similar flavors, the rankings definitely speak differently. If you're a pickle fan, you may want to take a look at the aisle and be more selective next time. Try something different!

In 1998 they created the largest pickle in the world

Ever snacked on a pickle and wished it was bigger so you could savor it for longer? The year was 1998, and according to the Philadelphia Business Journal, it had taken four years to create a pickle "10 times the size of traditional pickle cucumbers," making it the largest in the world. The "Hamburger Stackers" were said to have the same crunch as a normal Vlasic pickle, but with the ability for one slice to cover the sandwich itself. No word was mentioned on taste, but both the bread and butter version and dill version were sold to the public.

Anyone who is a true pickle fan, and even those who just throw the occasional barbeque, know the name Vlasic. But not many know these best-kept secrets. With these on hand you'll be armed with everything you need to prove your pickle-loving friend isn't a true pickle fan at all. Take these facts straight to the trivia competition!