From pizza to dip, potato chips and popcorn: pickle is the big flavor of summer

In May, Meg and Maddie Antonelli, a mother-daughter couple reviewing new food products on TikTok, photographed themselves in their car in the parking lot of a Florida grocery store. Meg raised a pot of pickled dill powder from Sam’s Club; Maddy, a bag of original golden crackers.

“Goldfish, if you’re seeing this, I think we need to create that flavor,” Maddie said, as her mother pounded the bag with pickle seasoning for a video that would later be posted on their TikTok channel, floridamomof3. After tasting the result, Maddie declared, “That’s unreal.”

While Pepperidge Farm, the manufacturer of goldfish, has yet to create an antonelli flavour, seasoning for pickles is increasingly being made into all kinds of foods, from chips and popcorn to sauces, salads, and even pizza. Although some pickled foods and spices have been around for decades, the variety of flavor and spread on social media has helped the products thrive.

Pickle flavor hits all the right notes for people — especially those under 40 — who are looking for bigger, bolder, brighter, and more acidic flavors, and foods and drinks, researchers said. Seasoning for pickles is versatile: It can add sweetness and acidity, and it’s subtle enough to add other flavors, said Sally Lyons White, executive director at market research firm IRI.

“It’s a refreshing ingredient that appeals to many consumers, especially younger ones,” said Brett Thorne, senior food and beverage editor at Nation’s Restaurant News. “And I don’t think people say, ‘I’ve tried a lot of bold flavors, and now I’m going back to the nicer ones. “

For decades, it has sold Country Home Creations, in Goodrich, Mich. Pickle mixes made from a family recipe. “There are definitely a lot of pickle lovers out there,” said Stephanie Jones, its vice president. Last year, she said, the company had to increase production by 30 percent to meet demand.

Big snack brands also introduced pickle-flavored products. Blue Diamond Almonds released a version of their spicy dill pickle in March 2020, with the sour and spicy flavors they say consumers look for in snacks. Frito Lay makes pickle-flavored chips for its Lays, Doritos, and most recently Ruffles lines. Trader Joe’s, which carries the dill pickle falafel, says the dill pickle seasoning mix ran out soon after it hit shelves in May.

Mr. Haskell said DiscoverFresh Foods introduced a dill pickle flavor four years ago, but it hasn’t sold as well as the company expected. The product was pulled off shelves for six months as the company reworked the recipe to replicate the taste of fried pickles, a popular appetizer in restaurants and food carts. Ranch flavoring and panko breadcrumbs were added, and dunked back in July 2020. Mr. Haskell said the pans sold out quickly at stores like Walmart, Sam’s Club and Costco.

“It has taken on a life of its own,” Mr. Haskell said. “We have people who love pickles and can’t keep them out of their fridges.”

Tonio Discusi, of Angela Concessions, which sells food at fairs, said that over the years he’s received dozens of requests from customers for pickled pizza. He and wife Corina Discusi tried it, and eventually came up with a recipe with white sauce, mozzarella, dill pickle chips, and ranch sauce. He presented it in 2020 at the food fair he attended in the East Coast.

Customers loved it, and ordered more pancakes to go. He said, “I didn’t invent this.” “But I mastered it.” Last year, he made pickle pizza a permanent item on his menu.

Social media has helped drive the boom in pickle flavor. Companies like Grillo’s Pickles, which makes traditional pickles and fresh salsa (Pickle de Gallo), have used social media to start collaborating with major food brands. In April, Utz launched a limited-edition grillo chipset, and in June, Ithaca Hummus followed with a Grillo flavor dip. (Grillo said about 600,000 bags of Utz chips have been sold, and the company plans to make the chips again in October for Costco.)

“There are so many ways you can enjoy your food,” said Eddie Andre, Grillo’s Pickles Brand Manager.

What could this interesting future of pickled spice look like? Mr. Thorne, food editor, believes the flavors of kimchi and Japanese pickled vegetables will be the next big thing in the snack world.

Meg and Maddie Antonelli, Florida TikTokers, will continue to experiment with all of their pickle options. They make pickle pizza at home twice a month, dip pickle on burgers and pair pasta with dill pickle seasoning.

“I hope this is always in vogue, because I love pickles,” said Meg Antonelli.

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