Forget peanuts and Cracker Jack - 'pickle sickles' are new ballpark hit (with video)

Forget peanuts and Cracker Jack - 'pickle sickles' are new ballpark hit (with video)

July 24th, 2013 by Tim Omarzu in Local Regional News

Ben Peterson, left, and Corbin Cartwright, of Naples, Flsa., eat "Pickle Sickles" - pickle juice frozen in small plastic cups - from the Warner Park Softball concession stand on Tuesday in Chattanooga. The Pickle Sickles, 50 cents each, regularly sell out and are, according to concession staff, more popular than their actual pickles.

Photo by Maura Friedman/Times Free Press.

POLL: Would you eat frozen pickle juice?

Chattanooga gave the world bottled Coca-Cola, the MoonPie and Little Debbie snack cakes.

Now, frozen pickle juice is a hit in the taste-setting Scenic City.

The "pickle sickle," a 50-cent serving of bright green frozen pickle juice in a two-ounce plastic cup, regularly sells out at the softball field concession stand in Chattanooga's Warner Park.

"They're good. It's tart," Corbin Cartwright, 8, of Naples, Fla., said Tuesday as he licked a pickle sickle and watched his sister play in the National Softball Association World Series that's in town this week.

"The kids come through and get 'em like they're hotcakes," concession stand employee Kristie Mize said.

"Kids like anything that's sour," she said. "They walk off with a big pucker on their face. It's so cute to watch."

Taste isn't the only draw. Pickle juice has a reputation as a sports drink that dates back at least to 2000, when the Philadelphia Eagles claimed the briny beverage helped their football players beat the Dallas Cowboys in the blazing, 100-degree Texas heat.

"Aren't they supposed to be good for you?" asked Kyliegh Basham, 15, who bought a pickle sickle Tuesday morning before she took to the field with her Mattoon, Ill., softball team. "I don't know. I just like the taste of them."

Pickle sickles were introduced several years ago by Randy Carpenter, owner of Family Concessions. His Chattanooga business sells food at Warner Park and several other city facilities.

"I had seen it somewhere years and years and years ago," Carpenter said.

The pickle juice is left over from whole dill pickles that sell for $1.50 each. Kids already were asking for pickle juice to prevent muscle cramps, when Parker decided to try freezing it in cups, a process that takes about 45 minutes.

Pickle sickles now outsell other frozen treats at Warner Park. But Carpenter doesn't have plans to market the product beyond Chattanooga's ballfields.

"All kids want something when they come to the ballpark," he said. "We like the pickle sickle because anybody can afford it."

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.