Friday, April 30, 2010

Pregnant Woman v. Food: The Pickle Edition

Although I didn’t crave pickles at all during my first pregnancy, this time around I went though a pickle phase. Cliché, I know, but I couldn’t help myself. They seemed to just call my name and they were so salty and delicious. My husband likes pickles too, so I went a little overboard on my pickle purchasing. So since about 33% of women crave salty snacks like pickles during their pregnancy, I figured I would test them out for you.

I was going to do a flip video of this, but then envisioned a video of me eating a bunch of pickles ending up on YouTube with some German voice over making inappropriate commentary. I also would never want my old students to get their hands on such footage.

Pickles 101

Pickles are more than 4,000 years old. While the cucumber dates back to Ancient India, cucumbers were brought from the Indus River Valley in India to Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) around 2030 bc. There they were first preserved and eaten as pickles. Pickles made there way into the bible and the history books as the favorite snack of world leaders ranging from Julius Caesar and Napoleon to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. “In colonial America, the pickle patch was an important adjunct to good living. Pickles were highly regarded by all of America's pioneering generations because, under frontier conditions, pickles were the only zesty, juicy, green, succulent food available for many months of the year.” (

Why do some pregnant women crave pickles?

There’s no definitive answer. Some experts say it’s the body’s way of indicating low sodium levels in the blood. Some say the vinegar helps the body break down calcium so it’s easier to absorb. Others say it is related to the hormonal changes. Then some say it’s an emotional need/connection to a food that reminds a woman of something comforting.

The Contenders:                       


Boars Head Kosher Dill Deli Pickle

Mild, with a hint of vinegar and garlic, not overwhelming and very crunchy. Dare I say, refreshing. A great pickle to eat on/with a sandwich. Available at Harris Teeter and Giant.

Claussen Kosher Dill Mini

Ok, these definitely had more spice than the others. They’re crunchy, yet they are made with dried red pepper and dry mustard. This gives the pickles more than a little hint of spice. Not hot spicy, just spice rack spicy. If you are a pickle traditionalist--you won’t like them--they definitely have a distinctive flavor.

Del Monte Kosher Dill

Truly the worst pickle I have ever tasted. Sour, soft, and just all around awful. So bad that I returned them. They don’t deserve a picture.

Harris Teeter Hamburger Chips

Sort of sour, pretty salty, more mush than crunch. Pretty much what I expected of store brand pickles. Like the kind you get at a cheap/chain deli.

Market Pantry Classic Dill

MP is the Target brand.  Good enough crunch factor, but otherwise just ok. A bit sour and too salty. I’d eat them if they were the only ones around, but wouldn’t buy them ever again.

Mt. Olive Zesty Garlic Kosher Dill

Crunchy, refreshing and garlicky – probably my favorite of the lot. If you don’t like a lot of garlic then you might not like these, but they’re worth giving a shot. Mt. Olive is one of the oldest pickle companies in the U.S.

Vlasic Snack’mms Kosher Dill

Ok, not mind blowing, but decent. Very crunchy and mild, so it’s pretty easy to toss back more than a few of these.

The Verdict?: Mt Olive Zesty Garlic Kosher Dills were my favorite, followed by the Boars Head Deli pickle.

After eating more than 14 pickles in the past 2 hours I can already feel my ankles and fingers beginning to swell from the sheer amount of salt I have just consumed. By tomorrow my hands and feet will probably resemble mini sausages. I’m going to chug a gallon of water now.

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