Pickles predate Jesus Christ. According to the New York Food Museum, the practice of preserving food in vinegar and brine dates all the way back to the ancient Mesopotamians in 2400 B.C. The invention was a vital part of surviving year round; during winter months, farmers would stockpile preserved vegetables to live off of over the winter, with underground stores to keep things cool. Pickles saved sailors on overseas journeys and fed troops in Napoleon’s army. Depending on how you look at it, they could be credited with the survival of humanity and the creation of the world as we know it today.
But in the early 20th century, a new technology emerged: the refrigerator. Frigidaire was the first to make ice boxes a home commodity, and for the first time, people had the ability to keep food cool and fresh, extending its life. In the years since, fridges have only become more accessible; they come in miniature versions for offices, walk-in size for restaurants, and can even dispense cool water with the push of a button.
With this technology, pickles have become largely obsolete, but society has failed to catch up. Even in 2018, soggy, salty pieces of cucumber are slipped into otherwise delicious sandwiches to ooze their foul flavor into the bread. Jars of cornichons line the shelves of fancy grocery stores, demanding people pay top dollar for slimy, insect-like gherkins. Even lox bagels are not exempt from the pickle plague, as chefs toss handfuls of sour capers on top of succulent slices of smoked salmon. (Luckily, the latter roll, making it easy to scrape off the offending berries.)
Far from moving away from the prehistoric style of storage, people appear to have only become more enamored with the disgusting foodstuffs. Pickle stands at farmers markets draw long lines as people queue for beets in apple cider vinegar, sour dill cucumbers, and bright green pepperoncinis. All hell breaks loose if someone disses the soggy vegetables. The collective gasp that ensues when I voice my distaste for pickles is a response better served for a confession that one enjoys murdering kittens.
Despite our progress as humans, we have yet to move on from this foul ingredient, but I refuse to eat them. Next time I have a craving for a cucumber, I’m going to pull one out of the fridge, peel it, slice it thin, and place it on buttered white bread with the crusts cut off — just the way God intended.
Read more from SF Weekly’s Thanksgiving-Week ‘Unpopular Opinions’ issue:
Unpopular Opinions: All Hail Pigeons
These misunderstood, resilient creatures simply reflect humanity’s creation of poverty and waste — and disgust for them says a lot about us.
These Are the Cliches I Can’t Stand
It is a joy to be an editor. But as marketing-speak conquers journalism, I have an ever-growing spreadsheet that lists more than 100 tics and soul-crushing no-nos.
Five Words I’m Trying Not to Use
When I realized the r-word had somehow crept back into my working vocabulary, I had to work hard to stop. Here are some others I’ve tried to move beyond.