Whether it's blowing up in your group chat or you came across a TikTok about it, chances are you're familiar with Picklegate.
The latest social media controversy comes courtesy of a TikTok uploaded by user Jesse Banwell (@jessebanwell) earlier this month. In the video, Banwell points out that his jars of Claussen and Mt. Olive pickles are both mysteriously missing the word "pickle" on their labels. And with nearly 2 million views, his TikTok has everyone running to the fridge to see if their jar of pickles has the word "pickles."
Here's a breakdown of what exactly Picklegate is, how pickle makers are responding, and everything else you should know.
What Exactly Are Pickles?
To better understand Picklegate, you should be equipped with a solid definition of what exactly a pickle is. According to Merriam-Webster, a pickle is "an article of food that has been preserved in brine or in vinegar (specifically: a cucumber that has been so preserved)." Additionally, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration says that a food is considered pickled if there's “water activity greater than 0.85 and have a finished equilibrium pH of 4.6 or below."
Given that the main ingredient in Mt. Olive, Claussen, and other major pickle brands is vinegar, it makes the lack of the word "pickle" on their labeling even more bizarre.
When Did The Controversy Begin?
Interestingly enough, the controversy surrounding the word "pickle" on pickle labeling has been around for several years. There's even a Reddit thread about it that dates back to 2017. But it wasn't until Banwell shared his TikTok that the sour mystery gained traction.
Banwell explains in the video that he was making sandwiches for his kids when he made the discovery.
"So, here's what happened. I was making some sandwiches for my kids earlier. And my youngest wanted to write down 'pickles' on a piece of paper for some reason. And he went and looked at the jar to see how to spell it. And he couldn't find the word on the jar anywhere," he explained.
Banwell went on to check other jars of pickles to see if they were also missing the word "pickle," and it turns out that they all were. Not only that, he uncovered that there isn't much info on why the labels feature words like "dills," "spears," "halves," and "chips" instead of "pickle."
"I couldn't find any real information on why they don't say 'pickles' on any of the jars. I don't think it's a coincidence. There has to be some reason for it. Maybe it's some legal thing. I don't really know," he said.
Have Brands Responded?
Pickle brands haven't hesitated in offering their take on the matter. Vlasic explained that you don't see the word "pickle" on their jars due to "limited label space."
“When pickle lovers see the clear Vlasic jar, they know they’re getting a great tasting pickle every time,” wrote Carolyn Goldberger, the brand manager at Vlasic, in a statement shared with FOX4. “We use the limited label space to clearly communicate the form and flavor inside each jar. That way consumers can easily find their favorite Vlasic. But no matter the style, it’s definitely a pickle!”
As far as Clausen, they “prefer[s] to showcase our varying styles and varieties on-pack,” according to a Kraft Heinz spokesperson.
Well, there you have it. If you still have your doubts despite those explanations, there's always the (surprisingly easy) option of making your own pickles.
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