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The History of Fried Pickles (Frickles)

Fried pickles were popularized by Duchess Drive-In in Arkansas in 1960. Owner Bernell Austin created the popular snack by dipping pickles into catfish batter. Unsurprisingly, the restaurant was located across from the Atkins Pickle plant. While this is the earliest verifiable story that food historians have been able to uncover, it’s highly likely that similar experiments with battered pickles were going on in other parts of the American South, perhaps even at earlier dates. In fact, Austin’s son has said that the idea wasn’t new, but his father had simply thought he could “do it better.” Other significant experiments include the fried pickles served at Hollywood Café in Tunica, Mississippi in the latter half of the ’60s. The restaurant helped make fried pickles very popular in the area. State fairs also helped popularize fried pickles. Newspaper articles for “French fried pickles” and similar recipes later helped nationalize the concept. Roughly 20 years ago, fried pickles began popping up on the menus of barbecue joints and sports bars all across the country. Now, they’re available at many eateries and are often served in different ways, including battered and fried spears, slices, and “chips.” They’re commonly served with ranch dipping sauce but are also sometimes paired with a remoulade or even ketchup. With many fans all across the country, fried pickles have become a staple appetizer today.

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