MeLeah Branch of rural Michigan knows pickles.
“I enjoy pickles with a meal. I enjoy pickles with a snack. And when I can’t get pickles, I’ll take vinegar,” said Branch, 52.
Branch lives in cucumber country “in the mitt,” as she calls it — referring to the shape of the state. She buys every brand of pickle she can get her hands on — and there are many in the United States — and cans just about everything that will fit in a jar.
“I love pickles. I always have,” Branch told London Morning‘s Rebecca Zandbergen. “I make my own. I try different ones. I’ve grown up in pickle country.”
There are tonnes of popular brands to choose from south of the border, including Grillo’s, Vlasic and Claussen,
But about a year ago, Branch joined a popular Facebook group called For the Love of Pickles — “These are my people,” Branch said — and was surprised to learn there’s a Canadian brand she’d never heard of.
Read MeLeah Branch’s tongue-in-cheek Facebook post:
‘They’re decent. They’re good’
“On the pickle page, a lot of the Canadians were posting about Bick’s pickles,” she said. “I’ve never had them, I’ve never seen them and I’ve never heard of anybody in the states talk about them.
“I knew I wanted to get those ones for sure.”
Bick’s pickles was founded in 1939 by George Bick, who started a cucumber farm north of Toronto with his son, Walter.
On a recent trip to New York, when Branch and her husband cut through Canada, they made a point of stopping at a Walmart in Woodstock, Ont.
In a decision she’s regretted ever since, Branch bought just one jar. It was a “ridiculous” decision, said Branch, because Bick’s pickles stand up to her favourite American brand, Vlasic.
“They’re decent. They’re good,” said Adrian Jaques, owner of Sunshine Pickles in Thamesville, Ont., an operation that grows between about five and six hectares of cukes. “They’re tried and true. There aren’t too many people that don’t like them.
“Over the years, we’ve tried a lot from different companies. Some have been really close to ours. Some we would never touch again.”
As for American brands, Jaques recommends Grillo’s, although he maintains his own brand of pickles, which all use his mother’s longtime recipes, are the best.
Branch is already making plans to get more Bick’s pickles, although “her people” on Facebook have suggested she also try Strub’s and Moishe’s pickles.
They’ve also been making generous offers.
“I’ve had like 15 people contact me and say they’d send me some,” she said, though she doesn’t intend on taking them up on their offers.
“I’m like, it’d be cheaper to just meet up at the border,” Branch laughed.