Let's examine this issue calmly, one step at a time. People invented pickling thousands of years ago as a way to preserve perishable foods. The preservation comes from acidity. That's that classic sourish, pickly flavor. Americans consume more than 20 billion pickles a year. Most of those pickles are dill. Dill pickles are the most popular kind of pickles.
When will the relish industry listen?
Last week, I went to a spacious, well-stocked Key Food grocery store to pick myself up a little dill relish. Like most Americans, I enjoy dill pickles, and, therefore, I also enjoy dill relish, which is little more than ground-up pickles. Indeed, the store offered a wide selection of dill pickles. But relish? No. The store offered brand after brand and jar after jar of SWEET relish only. There was not a single brand of dill relish to be found, much less a wide-ranging selection, concomitant with the selection of pickles themselves.
Is relish some sort of alien substance? Should relish operate by a set of rules completely unrelated to the set of rules governing the substance from which relish is made? Hardly. If Americans prefer smooth peanut butter over chunky, you can be sure that the PB&J restaurant will offer smooth peanut butter in their sandwiches. If Americans prefer no-pulp orange juice over pulpy orange juice, you can be sure that the bar will offer no-pulp orange juice as a mixer for screwdrivers. But when it comes to pickles, it seems that Big Food has decided that America's preferences should be ignored. Does America prefer the "dill" variety of pickle first and foremost, above all other flavors? Yes. Does the relish industry therefore respond rationally by making the majority of its relish dill? No.
What is your major malfunction, relish industry?
Think I'm lying? Let's just check on popular grocery delivery service Fresh Direct. Here we go, let's just enter "relish" into the search box there, and, here we go: one result. B&G Sweet Relish. If you want relish delivered to your house, I hope you like sweet relish—that's all you're getting. And if you go to the store—that's probably all you'll get there, too. Big Food is quite literally forcing American relish purchasers—who overwhelmingly prefer dill pickles—to consume sweet relish.
Sweet relish is made with corn syrup. Who the fuck puts corn syrup on a pickle. It's all fucked up.
[Photo: Kurt Nordstrom/ Flickr]