Pickles Made Cleopatra Beautiful: Weird Food Facts

Pickles, Pickles Made Cleopatra Beautiful: Weird Food Facts, The Travel Bug Bite

Pickles are a staple in many people’s homes. They are a popular hangover food in Ukraine, a fun street food in the USA when deep-fried and Cleopatra ate them as part of her beauty regime. Did I just say Cleopatra? Yes. Pickles have been around for a ridiculously long time. Some believe the first pickle was created in Mesopotamia in 2400 B.C.E.!

Pickles, Pickles Made Cleopatra Beautiful: Weird Food Facts, The Travel Bug Bite

Shakespeare, Christmas & Fiji

Shakespeare was the one who invented the phrase “in a pickle.” It was mentioned twice in his play The Tempest. The quotes read, “How cam’st thou in this pickle?” and “I have been in such a pickle.” Why did Shakespeare associate pickles with being in a predicament? One can only guess.

Pickles are part of some cultures’ Christmas traditions. After reading about it, I myself bought a pickle to hang in my Christmas tree. I’d have it displayed all year long if it were up to me. Turns out I’m not the only one who’s pickle obsessed. A town in Michigan has gone way overboard…

“A town in Michigan that claims to be the Christmas Pickle Capital of the World holds an annual pickle parade led by the Grand Dillmeister.”

Mobile Cuisine

Okay fine, Michigan may not be the craziest. In Fiji, guys begin their courting process by showing their love interests’ parents his pickle pits. Pickle pits are holes in the ground that are lined with banana leaves. The natives of the Pacific Islands use these pits as food reserves in case of storms and they are a way to show their worth and ability to provide for a woman. Sounds bizarre, but then again, Westerners swoon over shiny rocks that society deems valuable even if the one who bought them has zero pickling skills.

“In Dutch, to salt or brine, something is called pekel. The word may also come from the German pökel or pökeln.”

Mental Floss
Pickles, Pickles Made Cleopatra Beautiful: Weird Food Facts, The Travel Bug Bite

America & Pickles

I always thought that pickles were an Eastern European thing. My Ukrainian family is ravenous for them and we even have a special top-secret family recipe for them. So I was surprised that America was so big on them too. Turns out, America loves them because of Eastern Europeans. Ha! Pickle-mania was brought over to New York City in the 19th century by Eastern European Jews.

As grateful as I am to these people for making sure that my life in America is pickleful, I blame them for street vendors charging $8 for a single deep-fried pickle. Yes, of course I bought it! But holy cow, these sellers must be funding entire streets of brownstones in Park Slope.

“Americans consume about 9 pounds of pickles per person every year. The most popular type remains kosher dill.”

Mental Floss

But I can’t give my people all the credit when it comes to Americans loving pickles. According to The New York Times, America is named after a pickle merchant. Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian explorer with a surprisingly impressive resume. He was a ship chandler and supplied merchants as well as sailors with supplies for their voyages. These included preserved meats and vegetables! So when Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about Vespucci in his book English Traits, his one-track mind made him refer to the man as a “pickle-dealer.”

Pickles, Pickles Made Cleopatra Beautiful: Weird Food Facts, The Travel Bug Bite

Julius Caesar, Cleopatra & Napoleon

While Cleopatra believed that eating pickles made her more beautiful, her boo Julius Ceasar thought that they provided strength. Along with other Roman emperors, Ceasar had soldiers eat them hoping that they would be like spinach to Popeye. I can just picture Cleo mocking Jules for making his soldiers beautiful while he worried about her beauty regime giving her bulging muscles.

Napoleon was obviously on Caesar’s side since he was a copy cat and follower. He spent a lot of money to make sure that his army had enough pickles. Somehow, war and pickles became a thing. Forty percent of all pickles produced in America were set aside for the Armed Forces and soldiers’ ration kits during WWII. I’d be mad about this but I guess a majority of them went to the army wives who I picture munching angrily while waiting for their husbands to come home.

Apparently sportspeople are just as wacko as past wartime leaders. The Philadelphia Eagles claim that drinking pickle juice helped them beat the Cowboys…

“During a hot September 3, 2000, game in Irving, Texas, when temperatures on the field of Texas Stadium reached 109 degrees, Philadelphia players chugged pickle juice and credited the briny solution for their 41-14 win.”

Mental Floss

I wonder if they celebrated with pickle-back shots that evening. Non-Americans may be wrinkling their brows just about now just like I was when I first discovered this while watching You on Netflix. Apparently people chase a shot of whiskey with pickle juice. It’s a strange concept to me because we use it as a hangover remedy the morning after we overindulge on vodka instead.

Fancy people like to do shots directly out of a pickle, which is a little more my style:

Pickles Are a Noisy Fruit

What did I just write? No, you did not read that wrong. Let’s start with the fruit part… According to the U.S. Supreme Court, pickles, like tomatoes, are fruit of the vine. I have been in too many fruit or vegetable arguments in my life so I will stay out of this one. Would one get deported for throwing a pickle at a Supreme Court judge? Asking for a friend.

“You can hear the crunch of a good pickle at 10 paces.”

Mobile Cuisine

What in the holy pickle is a pace, you may ask. Surprisingly enough, this unit of measurement dates back to ancient Greece. So I can’t blame the inventors of feet and inches for obscure measurement that makes no sense since pace length decreases with age and some health conditions. Anyway, rant over. Google told me that 10 paces is 25 feet or about 7.6 meters. That’s one loud crunch!

Pickles, Pickles Made Cleopatra Beautiful: Weird Food Facts, The Travel Bug Bite

Americans are Weird

I love Americans and America. Don’t get me wrong. But Americans seem to take too much enjoyment out of turning normal foods into insane creations that make the rest of the world gag. Take a simple, crisp, delicious pickle for example. Someone, somewhere decided to combine pickles and Kool-Aid to create Koolickles. For those who don’t know what Kool-Aid is, it’s a flavored drink mix.

“Each cup of Kool-Aid has 20 grams of sugar, or to be precise, the equivalent of 5 teaspoons of sugar. Research has shown that the artificial dyes in Kool-Aid may cause hyperactivity in your child. Long-term consumption may increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and even cancer.”

Is It Bad For You?

I can see Cleopatra and Caesar shaking their heads at this monstrosity. Although it does look pretty:


Pickles are awesome. Mark November 14th in your calendars because it’s national pickle day. Shame on you, world, for not having an international day for the all mighty pickle. Napoleon agrees with me. Personally, I celebrate pickles every day. I do this by eating them, making them, and being on a continuous search for pickle ice cream that I know is out there somewhere.

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Pickles, Pickles Made Cleopatra Beautiful: Weird Food Facts, The Travel Bug Bite
Pickles, Pickles Made Cleopatra Beautiful: Weird Food Facts, The Travel Bug Bite

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