A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 22, 2007
Fried Pickles (Fried Dill Pickles; French Fried Pickle Slices)

Fried pickles are served throughout the South (and, now, in many northern cities as well). The exact origin of “fried pickles,” however, is unknown. It is claimed in the Wikipedia (below) that the Cock of the Walk restaurant first created this dish, but that restaurant opened in April 1977—clearly too late to have invented the dish. It is often claimed that the Hollywood Cafe in Hollywood, MS invented fried pickles in 1969, but “french fried pickle slices” is cited in print in 1962.

“Fried pickles” are often called “frickles.” Ranch dressing often is served with fried pickles.


Wikipedia: Fried pickle
A fried pickle is a snack item found commonly in the American South. It is made by deep-frying a sliced battered dill pickle.

A restaurant by the name of Cock of the Walk is credited with this creation. This once small shack located on the Mississippi River is now a large chain also known for their fried catfish. 

Roadfood Forums - Fried Pickles
Posted - 11/27/2005 :  21:08:07
Dearfolk,
As has been noted elsewhere, fried dill pickles began as a last-ditch effort by a chef to put out food - ANY food - to feed anxious customers at The Hollywood Cafe in Hollywood, Mississippi. From that fated moment, their popularity has spread considerably.

One Athens establishment, The Blind Pig, always has them available. In fact, now I’ll have to wander down there and have some in a few minutes, along with my first taste of their Brunswick stew.

My favorite eatery/drinkery, Copper Creek Brewing Co., offers fried pickles from time to time. The chef fried some up one night out of pure boredom; several customers (the regulars first, then others who noted the oddity and HAD to try some) ordered up some until the place ran plumb out of pickles.

Both of these examples use the standard Delta version: sliced pickles cut on the bias and breaded and fried. One nearby restaurant, The Berryman House in Bowman, Georgia, serves fried pickle spears. The people there were indeed amazed when I ordered up some with my breakfast!

Now I can’t help but wonder what fried sweet pickle slices would taste like....
Cucumbersomely, Ort. Carlton in Chilly Athens, Georgia.
(...)
Posted - 11/28/2005 :  00:26:59
it is a southern thing, hell we have deep fried versions of just about everything down here. (Twinkies, snickers, ice cream) They are good at Cock of the Walk in Maumelle, AR along with the catfish. Just stay away from the chicken there it tends to be very dry and tough. But they do have great fish, fried pickles, and tossed cornbread (they literally throw it up in the air right in front of you and catch it in a cast iron skillet at your table.

Cock of the Walk Restaurant
The first Cock of the Walk opened in April, 1977, on the bank of the ole “Mighty Muddy” Mississippi River in Natchez, Mississippi. The founders were Sallie and Basil Ballard, Weeta and Forrest Colebank, and Ann and George Eyrich.

19 November 1962, Oakland (CA) Tribune, “Peter Piper Pick a Peck...,” pg.  23, cols. 3-4:
POPULAR PICKLES again show their versatility in this French Fried Pickle recipe prepared specially for the 1962 Newspaper Food Editors Conference in New York. A happy addition to the appetizer tray or used as a side dish with meats for dinner or a snack with juice, soft drinks in the evening, these delightful little treats are easy to prepare and delicious to eat.

FRENCH FRIED PICKLE SLICES
One cup sweet cucumber pickle slices
One cup unsifted pancake mix
Two eggs
Two-thirds cup milk
Oil for frying

Drain pickle slices on paper towels, turn once to dry both sides of pickle well. Combine eggs and milk; add gradually to pancake mix, stirring during addition and until mixture is smooth. Heat oil in electric fry pan with temperature control set at 375 degrees F., or in skillet on medium fire. Dip drained pickle slices, one at a time into batter covering pickle slice entirely. Fry in hot fat until golden brown and turn, about one minute. Drain slices on paper towel and serve at once while hot. Makes 36 to 40 French Fried Pickle slices. Use any of the pickle slices...sweet, candied, sweet pickle chips, etc.

12 December 1969, Burlington (NC) Daily Times-News, “Pickles Help To Make Any Meal Complete” Miss York Kiker (Department of Agriculture - Marketing Home Economist), by pg. 13A, cols. 3-4:
French Fried Pickles Slices
1 cup sweet cucumber pickle slices
1 cup unsifted pancake mix
2 eggs
2-3 cup milk
Oil for frying

Drain pickle slices on paper towels, turn once to dry both sides of pickle well. Combine eggs and milk; add gradually to pancake mix, stirring during addition and until mixture is smooth. Heat oil in electric fry pan with temperature control set at 375 degree F. or in skillet on medium fire. Dip drained pickle slices, one at a time, into batter covering pickle slices entirely. Fry in hot fat until a golden brown and turn about minute. Drain slices on paper towel and serve at once while hot. Yield: 36 to 40 French Fried Pickle slices.

Use any of the pickle slices...sweet, dill, super sweet, pickle chips, etc.
(This article was also printed in December 4, 1969, Lumberton, NC Robesonian, pg. 9, cols. 5-8—ed.)

10 September 1976, Idaho Falls (ID) Post-Register, pg. A3, col. 1:
This year’s fair menu offers everything imaginable, from tacos to spud dogs, hoagies to home made bread, french dip sandwiches to fried dill pickles and home made candy to corn on the cob.
(Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot—ed.)

15 September 1976, Walla Walla (WA) Union-Bulletin, “If pickles are your dish, then try them in a hot one,” pg. 15, col. 2: 
Fried pickles
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup water
several dill pickles, sliced

Dip the 1/4-inch thick pickle slices in a batter made from the other ingredients. Fry the coated slices in hot oil until they are golden brown.

Serve them with a sauce made of slightly more than 1/4 cup ketchup and slightly less than 1/4 cup mayonnaise.

2 June 1977, Lima (OH) News, pg. D1, col. 5:
By the end of 1973 she decided to combine the two approaches into her newsletter—a different kind of periodical for women. it contained chatty little items about keeping house and raising a family, recipes for unusual dishes like fried pickles and salad soup, and a hefty dose of jokes and humorous narratives.
(Gloria Pitzer’s National Homemaker’s Newsletter—ed.)

4 September 1977, Idaho State Journal (Pocatello, ID), pg. D1, col. 2:
“Tiger Ears” (a pressed dough cake with cinnamon and sugar) was the most popular food at the ‘76 fair—but this year it may be French Fried Dill Pickles, the manager predicted. “Hot dill pickles with crisp batter coating—they are really good!”
(Eastern Idaho State Fair—ed.)

13 November 1977, Abilene (TX) Reporter-News, pg. 2F, col. 4:
FRENCH FRIED DILL PICKLES
Fredda Cook Snyder
2 large dill pickles, sliced
1 egg
1 cup pancake batter
1/2 cup milk
Mix pancake batter with milk and egg. Dip sliced pickles in flour then in batter. Deep fry until golden.

13 January 1981, North Hills News Record (Warrendale, PA), pg. 9, col. 3 ad:
Deep Fried Dill Pickles
(Franklin Inn at Franklin Park—ed.)

26 August 1982, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, “Southern-fried dill pickles?”, section 5, pg. 5, col. 1:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UPI)—The South has given the world its own special version of deep-fried chicken and catfish, so why shouldn’t there be a spot on the menu for fried dill pickles?
That’s the feeling of Chad Selden of Hollywood, Miss., who claims at least partial credit for bringing fried pickles into vogue.
Selden’s brother, Tate, used to manage The Hollywood,a cafe in their hometown where fried dill pickles were a favorite item. The cafe is now owned by Bob Hall, who showed how to make fried dill pickles during a demonstration at the Mid-South Folklife Festival in Memphis.
“There are a couple of different recipes, real hot and kind of mild,” Selden said in an interview. “The basic thing is to start with a beer batter.”
(...)
Add spices—garlic salt, paprika, red pepper, black pepper and “anything you got around the kitchen” to all-purpose flour.
Stir in a little beer. Set the batter aside to thicken enough to cling to a dill pickle chip.
“It’s best to let it age an hour at least, maybe longer, to get all of the spices to exude all their goodies,” Selden said.
Slice dill pickles crosswise about one-eighth to one-quarter-inch thick. Dip in batter and fry until crisp in deep fat preheated to 350 to 375 degrees. Serve hot.

26 October 1983, Doylestown (PA) Daily Intelligencer, Food, pg. 7, col. 4:
French Fried Pickles
1 qt. dill pickles, thinly sliced
1 3/4 c. flour (divided)
2 tsp. red pepper
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp, salt
3 dashes hot sauce
1 c. beer
vegetable oil
Dip pickles in 1 cup flour, set aside. Combine 3/4 cup flour and all dry ingredients. Add hot sauce and beer, mixing well. Dip pickles into batter. Deep fry in hot oil until pickles float to top and are golden brown. Drain and serve. Makes 2 1/2 dozen.
Linda Laidley, 1511 Birchwood, Roslyn.

2 July 1984, Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal, “The Butcher” by Merle Ellis,” pg. D2, cols. 3-4:
Tavern burgers a timeless summer treat for children
(...)
Taverns originated (al east in my world) at Ye Olde Tavern, a little restaurant on 14th and Jackson in Sioux City, Iowa, where they were the house special and were devoured by hordes of hungry high
FRIED DILL PICKLES
1 egg, beaten
8 ounces milk
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrin Sauce
or 6 drops Tabasco
1 tablespoon flour
Salt and pepper
2 cups flour
Sliced dill pickles
Oil for deep frying
Mix beaten egg with milk, sauces and 1 tablespoon flour. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix 2 cups flour with salt and pepper to taste in a separate bowl. Dip pickles in egg mixture then into flour, then into egg and back into flour. Fry in 350-degree deep fat until golden brown.

30 October 1985, Doylestown (PA) Daily Intelligencer, “Fried dill pickles are a regional specialty” by Cecily Brownstone (Associated Press), pg. 9, cols. 1-3:
DEAR CECILY: I’ve heard that fried pickles, served with catfish, are a specialty of the Hollywood Cafe in Hollywood, Miss. (...)—CURIOUS.
DEAR CURIOUS: Because I had never heard of fried dill pickles I asked an acquaintance of mine who is particularly interested in regional Southern dishes to research the subject. She reports that according to the Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis, Tenn., fried dill pickles are indeed served at Mississippi’s Hollywood Cafe. In fact, they originated there. Here is the recipe she ferreted out.—C. B.
FRIED DILL PICKLES
2 large egg yolks
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
32-ounce jar dill pickles, well drained
Oil for frying
Beat together egg yolks and water until blended. Gradually beat in flour, keeping the batter smooth, but not over-beating.
Trim ends from pickles. Slice 1/4-inch thick. Dry well on paper towels.
Heat oil for shallow frying to 375 degrees.

Dip pickle slices into batter and fry, without crowding, in the hot oil until slightly browned. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve at once.

3 November 1985, Deer Park (TX) Progress, pg. 4A, col. 1:
Fried dill pickles are standard fare for lunch. 

26 May 1993, North Hills News Record (Warrendale, PA)., pg.C1, col. 4:
Fried pickles are best with a dipping sauce. Possibilities: melted cheese, cocktail sauce, salsa or honey-dijon mustard sauce.

15 August 1993, Doylestown (PA) , “Try the favorites of the King” (Elvis Presley) by Joycelyn Winnecke, pg. C2, col. 1:
He relished Fried Dill Pickles from roadhouses outside Memphis and ate regular dill pickles during recording sessions.
(...)(Col. 2 --ed.)
What I didn’t test was Fried Dill Pickles, but here you go: Cut 8 dill pickles in slices as thick as a silver dollar. Combine 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup beer, 1 1/4 tablespoons paprika, 1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons garlic salt, 3 dashes Tabasco. Dip the pickles slices into the batter and quickly fry in grease until pickles float to top, about 4 minutes.

2 October 1996, Aiken (SC) Standard, Pg. 1B, col. 5:
Ken Connor, manager of Bi-Lo in Clearwater, said he will be back with more of his famous fried pickles. Connor has been making fried pickles for about 10 years, but it was not until he began selling them at the Sassafras Festival that they became a valley favorite. 

6 October 1997, Huntingdon (PA) Daily News, pg. 13, col. 3:
The Kiwanians had a new item, fried pickles, which was a “conversation item” all day. “Fried pickles, I never heard of them.”

State Bar of Texas - Spectrum
July 2004
Legal Pickle
Although Denton attorney Sherman Swartz is a member of the Pro Bono College, he is likely the only member to have accepted a case for the price of a plate of fried pickles.

For the past 17 years, Swartz’s childhood friend, Ken Willis, has been the proprietor of a downtown eatery called Ruby’s Diner on the Square. In February, a California-based company, the Ruby Restaurant Group, which operates a chain of Ruby’s restaurants, notified Willis that he had 24 hours to change his restaurant’s name or face legal action.

“Ken called me up and was just beside himself,” Swartz recalled. “I told him I’d respond with a demand letter, and he said, ‘What do I owe you?’ I said, ‘Give me a plate of fried pickles.’”
(...)
“First, you take a pickle,” he instructed, “but it has to be a big, crisp, firm pickle — most people don’t use the right pickle. Then you slice the pickle, batter it, and deep-fry it. The pickles come out kind of like French fries or fried okra, both of which I like, but these are much, much better.”

The pickles are best served, Swartz says, with a dipping sauce. “Ken uses a special sauce, which is quite good,” he said, “but personally I’m a blue cheese kind of guy.”

Austin American-Statesman
Dining: Cattle Company Steakhouse & Saloon
Steaks at small-town prices are big on flavor
By Dale Rice
American-Statesman Restaurant Critic
Web posted: Nov. 2, 2005

Fried onions or fried pickles?

That’s the dilemma I’ll be facing the next time I dine at the Cattle Company Steakhouse in Elgin, one of the old-fashioned steakhouses that have grown scarce in Central Texas.

The fried pickles and onion rings at the Cattle Company are both delightful, but a basket of each appetizer is too filling when you intend to follow them with a steak.

The made-from-scratch onion rings ($3.95) were coated with a batter so light that the thin, dry crust barely clung to the sweet, nongreasy circles of onion.

The fried pickles ($4.95), made with traditional sliced hamburger dills, wore that same light crust that was so good, I almost (note that I said almost) refrained from dipping them in the accompanying ranch dressing.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Monday, October 22, 2007 • Permalink