But do Koolickles live up to the hype?
The origin of the snack is hazy but the credit (possibly the blame) is given to John T. Edge, author and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance. Edge penned a column about the snack in a 2007 piece for the New York Times, under the pen name John T. Edge.
A prevalent snack at most corner stores in the South (the place from where almost every decadent, demented and decent snacks rises), Koolickles are a cash cow popular among teens, random adventurous adults and curious tourists. A Double Quick store in Indianola, MS turns such a profit on the snack, the store applied for a trademark, though wisely changed the name to “Pickoolas” to avoid any lawsuits or a pissed off Kool-Aid man busting through a store wall. But mama named ‘em Koolickles and I’m gonna call ‘em Koolickles in this piece.
The sugar-and-dye soaked dills have yet to make their way to my side of the country. Unable to secure the permission and an expense account to travel hundred of miles across the country to eat a pickle, I was left with no other choice but to make my own homemade Koolickles.
Now, you’re probably assuming the recipe for Koolickles is pickles, Kool-Aid and a jar but the concoction is a little more complex than a couple gherkins soaking in a glass jar of drink mix. The complete recipe with, count them, ten steps to making Koolickles is available online.
For my homemade Koolickles, I chose grape and watermelon flavor, though both actually chose me because it was all they had at the grocery store.
I precisely followed the ten step recipe and patiently waited for a week while my pickles marinated to a pinkish and deep purple tint. I extended an invite to friends to come partake in the unbottling of the delicacy. I can’t say I’m shocked that zero people accepted an invitation to Kool-Aid soaked pickles but the loss is their own.
The first bite was anti-climactic though the blame could fall with the week-long buildup. I expected the first chomp to include a massive explosion of sweet and salty flavor on my palate followed by a charming southern band playing a celebratory song in my kitchen. We’d all dance, eat Koolickles, talk about the oppressive heat and college football rankings, while devouring two batches of punch-pickled pickles.
Eh, not so much.
They weren’t terrible but didn’t deserve and adjective like marvelous or phenomenal. I’m not even sure they could be called delicious. They were oddly sweet, similar to an disarranged marriage of pickle bite and Jolly Rancher in my mouth. It took the devouring of three pickles to reach these conclusions. I came to these conclusion, while masticating on my fourth grape-soaked goody that “holy shit I just ate four of those pickles!” and not just because Koolickles deserved a fair review. I just couldn’t stop eating the damn dills. It might have been my elevated blood-sugar level or the fun of eating a fuchsia-painted pickle but I found it hard to stop the snacking.
The fondness and popularity of Koolickles is understandable. They’re fun to say, easy to make, and Kool-Aid pickling could be the key to getting Americans to eat vegetables. Yes, sugar-coated and red dye-stained veggies, but it’s progress. I suggest making a batch of your own, testing different pickle types and flavors, and bringing them to the next house party of tailgate.
I’m working on getting them into every corner store in my town under the name Poolickles. Patent pending.