Not that the matter is solved, but after all these years can we not agree that it is time to move on? Because a new, potentially divisive pie is making its way onto menus across the country that deserves our attention instead: Ladies and gentlemen of the social media debate, I’m giving you pickle pizza. Discuss.
However you feel about this development in human history, it may be time to get your talking points ready. The pickle pie is having a moment.
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It’s a new food item on the Minnesota and Indiana state fairs this year, and announcements about it have caught the attention of Local media and social media oglers. Pickles also pop up among more traditional offerings at pizzerias, from chain joints to chef pizzerias. Usually served atop a white or ranch sauce rather than the classic red, pickles prove they’re more than a novelty in the pizza topping game.
“There’s a nice sweet, sour, spicy bite,” says Rachael Jennings, who recently opened her own Boogy & Peel pizzeria in Washington, after years as a chef at the hot Rose’s Luxury. Pickles are the star of her Big Mac-inspired pie, which features a version of the fast-food icon’s special sauce (spoiler alert: It’s actually Thousand Island dressing, she says) with American cheese and ground beef. Out of the sizzling oven, the pie is topped with crispy iceberg lettuce, slices of white onion, a dash of more special sauce – and house-made pickles.
Jennings acknowledges that her cakes, whose style she calls “neo-neo-Neapolitan,” aren’t even close to traditional. “If you brought this to your nonna in Sicily, she would spit in your face,” Jennings says. “But try it and tell me it’s not good.”
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Many brine-loving fans agree that pickles have earned their place in the topping pantheon. While there’s no definitive history of the pickle pizza, a Nexis search for news stories indicates that after making an odd appearance in a handful of restaurants over the years, they gained more attention around 2018.
That year, a video of a pickle pizza being made in New York went viral, and Al Roker and his show gang “Today” playfully tried a pickle pie for on-screen yuks — theirs came from Rhino’s Pizzeria in Upstate New. York, whom she touted as the inventor of creation.
Since then, it’s taken off at a handful of state fairs, including in Ohio, Florida, and West Virginia, as well as the Calgary Stampede — locations where gimmicky food thrives. Pickle pizza, however, seems to be a breakthrough star.
An early innovator was Dennis Schneekloth, the owner of QC Pizza, which has two locations in Minnesota and specializes in quirky recipes (think crab rangoon and avocado toast-inspired pies). He was researching ideas for his latest eccentric offering and it occurred to him to create a pizza based on a delicacy popular in the state, the pickle roll, also known as Minnesota sushi. That snack consists of pickles slathered with cream cheese and wrapped in a slice of ham.
“I posted about it in a Facebook group and people said, ‘No way, that sounds awful,'” he says. “But I had a premonition about it.”
After some tinkering and buying fresh pickles that could withstand the 500-degree heat of his ovens, Schneekloth achieved what he said was a winning combination. The base is a white sauce with garlic and dill accents, layered with pickles, mozzarella and strips of Canadian bacon that has been smoked for 48 hours. Because he makes his pizza the Quad City style — a lesser-known genre of pies named for its region origins spanning four cities in Iowa and Illinois — most of the toppings go under the cheese (a final garnish of more pickles and fresh pickles). dill crowns the whole), and the pizza is cut into strips, not wedges.
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He proved his Facebook friends wrong – customers loved it. It attracted international attention when the FoodBeast blog presented its creation in 2019.
“It just exploded,” he recalls. “I was in newspapers in the UK” He now sells his frozen pizzas at the food delivery service Goldbelly and drives a Mercedes Sprinter van covered in pictures of pickles.
Since then, he has seen many more pickle pies sprout. “They have more power,” he says.
He’s back in R&D mode, working on a deep pickle pizza he calls the Mega Dill. “If I can perfect this, people will buy it,” he says.
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At Slyce Coal Fired Pizza Company in Vernon Hills, Illinois, pickle pizza has been a recent special menu item. Graeme Nyland, the restaurant’s general manager, said the creation was a team effort. He’d argued for it, pointing to the miles of lines in front of the pickle pizza window at the Wisconsin State Fair, figuring they could do it in a more lofty way.
Slyce’s version used extra-virgin olive oil and garlic as the base, topped with prosciutto, sliced tomato, and pickles made in-house with English cucumbers. A splash of chili oil topped it off. Nyland appreciates the star ingredient’s culinary qualities – and its divisive appeal.
“It just has that nice vinegar punch that gets things going,” he says. “Pickles are the kind of things that people either love or hate, and there are more that love them.”