Pickle pizza started as a novelty, but now it’s a big dill



An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that cast members of “Good Morning America” ​​had tried the on-screen pickle pizza. They were members of the “Today” show. The article has been corrected.

The debate over pineapple on pizza is more stale than a three-day-old slice of Dominos. For proof of how long this great national conversation lasts, take a look at the finale of “Stranger Things,” a nostalgic 1980s series from Netflix, in which a stoner pizza delivery guy tries to sell out a skeptical teenager. on its merits, or at least the virtue of keeping an open mind. “Try before you deny,” he advises, like a sage of the Reagan era.

Not that the case is settled, but after all these years, can’t we agree that it’s time to move on? Because there’s a new, potentially divisive pie making its way onto menus across the country that’s kind of worth our attention: Ladies and gentlemen of the social media debate scene, I’m giving you pizza with pickles. Discuss.

Whatever your opinion on this evolution of human history, it may be time to prepare your talking points. The pickle pie has a moment.

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It’s a new food this year at state fairs in Minnesota and Indiana, and announcements about it have caught the attention of local media and users on social networks. Pickles have also been popping up among more traditional pizzeria offerings, from restaurant chains to cheffy pizzerias. Most often served on a white or ranch sauce instead of the classic red, pickles prove they’re more than a novelty in the pizza topping game.

“There’s this nice sweet, sour, tangy bite,” says Rachael Jennings, who recently opened her own pizzeria, Boogy & Peel, in Washington after years as a chef at the white-hot Rose’s Luxury. Pickles are the star of her Big Mac-inspired pie, which layers a version of the fast-food icon’s special sauce (spoiler alert: it’s basically Thousand Islands dressing, she says) with American cheese and ground beef. Straight out of the scorching oven, the pie is topped with crisp iceberg lettuce, sliced ​​white onion, a more special sauce and homemade pickles.

Jennings acknowledges that her pies, which she calls the “neo-neo-Neapolitan” style, aren’t even close to tradition. “If you took that to your nonna in Sicily, she would spit in your face,” Jennings says. “But, like, try it and tell me it’s no good.”

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Many brine fans would agree that pickles have earned their place in the pantheon of the best. While there’s no definitive history of pickle pizza, a Nexis news search indicates that after making an odd appearance in a handful of restaurants over the years, they’ve started to be more widely noticed around 2018.

That year, a video of a pickle pizza made in New York went viral, and Al Roker and his “Today” gang bravely tried a pickle pie for on-screen yuks – theirs came from Rhino’s Pizzeria in upstate New York. , whom they vaunted as the inventor of creation.

Since then, it’s taken off at a handful of state fairs, including Ohio, Florida and West Virginia, as well as the Calgary Stampede — places where fancy food thrives. Pickle pizza, however, seems to be a standout.

One of the early innovators was Dennis Schneekloth, the owner of QC Pizza, which has two locations in Minnesota and specializes in original recipes (think crab-rangoon and avocado-inspired pies). He was exploring ideas for his latest bizarre offering, and it occurred to him to make a pizza based on a popular delicacy in the state, the pickle roll, sometimes called Minnesota sushi. This snack features pickles covered in cream cheese and wrapped in a slice of ham.

“I posted about it in a Facebook group, and people were like, ‘No way, that sounds terrible,'” he says. “But I had a feeling.”

After some tinkering and searching for fresh pickles that could withstand the 500-degree heat of his ovens, Schneekloth came up with what he determined was a winning combination. Its base is a white sauce with accents of garlic and dill, covered with pickles, mozzarella and strips of Canadian bacon smoked for 48 hours. Because he makes his pizza in the Quad City style — a lesser-known genre of pies named for his origins in the region spanning four cities in Iowa and Illinois — most of the toppings go under the cheese (a final garnish of more pickles and fresh dill tops it off), and the pizza is cut into strips, not wedges.

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He proved his Facebook friends wrong – customers loved it. He gained international attention when the FoodBeast blog featured his creation in 2019.

“It just exploded,” he recalls. “I was in the newspapers in the UK”. He now sells his frozen pizzas on food delivery service Goldbelly and drives a Mercedes Sprinter van covered in pictures of pickles.

Since then, he’s seen many more pickle pies sprout. “More power for them,” he says.

He’s back in R&D mode, working on a pickle pizza he calls the Mega Dill. “If I can perfect that, people are going to buy it,” he says.

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At Slyce Coal Fired Pizza Company in Vernon Hills, Illinois, pickle pizza was a recent special menu item. Graeme Nyland, the restaurant’s general manager, said the creation was a team effort. He had been advocating for it, pointing to the long lines for the pickle pizza stand at the Wisconsin State Fair, thinking they could do it in a higher way.

Slyce’s version used extra virgin olive oil and garlic as a base, topped with prosciutto, sliced ​​tomatoes and homemade pickles with English cucumbers. A drizzle of chilli oil finished it off. Nyland appreciates the culinary qualities of the star ingredient – and its divisive appeal.

“He just has that nice vinegar punch that kicks things off,” he says. “Pickles are the kind of thing people either love them or hate them, and there are others who love them.”

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