The Heinz Pickles You Probably Never Knew Existed

Did you even know Heinz pickles exist? Though pickles were one of the original products produced by the newly formed Heinz company in 1869 (via, along with horseradish, pickles aren't necessarily what springs to mind when you hear the word "Heinz." That honor goes to ketchup. A whopping 97% of Americans have a bottle of ketchup lurking in their refrigerator, and about half of those bottles sport the Heinz label. The words ketchup and Heinz go together like macaroni and cheese. But Heinz did not start out as the king of ketchup, though it's been a part of their repertoire since 1876 (Heinzhistory) amid a company reorganizing.

Heinz introduced the first sweet pickle in 1876. One of its earlier pickle products was the spiced gherkin, which was sold in barrel-style food bottles, according to MSN. You probably didn't know this pickle ever existed. But you surely know pickles exist: According to Andrew Deckert, the marketing lead for Heinz Heritage Brands, Americans spend $1 billion on pickles each year (Post-Gazette) and many of us binge on them with 4.67 million Americans consuming at least six jars each year.

Pickles have been around longer than you might expect

Pickles have been consumed for more than 4,000 years, by the likes of Cleopatra, Julius Cesar, Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth, and even General George Washington. The Heinz Company, ever the pickle pushers, opened a pickle processing plant in Holland, Michigan in 1897, and after WWII the company declared that it was the largest pickle and vinegar processing plant in the world, per Digital Holland. The plant is still in operation today.

One of the most popular kinds of pickle is, of course, the sweet gherkin. A gherkin is actually a specific kind of the cucumber, the genus used most often in pickling, according to The Kitchen Community. And while sweet gherkins are the pickle of choice at holiday gatherings, the spiced gherkin is a rare find. Heinz no longer makes them, but upon merging with Kraft in 2015 in an effort to appeal to a younger generation of pickle poppers, launched sweet and spicy chips and spicy garlic chips, the first new pickle flavors introduced by Heinz in more than 50 years (Post-Gazette). Hopefully these spicier pickle chips will take off, and the resurgence of the Heinz spiced gherkin is on the horizon. A spicy gherkin could spark a whole new generation of pickle people, and pickle people make the world a perkier place, don't they?