If you ever get a chance to get out to Pittsburgh in July, you should check out the city’s annual Picklesburgh festival. It’s been going strong for a decade now. It used to be held on the deck of one of the city’s iconic bridges, though this year it outgrew that venue and now takes over a few city blocks. The festival is always lorded over by this giant inflatable pickle, which I swear gets larger every year…
…and occasionally, its weird cousin gets to come out and pretend to be “The World’s Largest Christmas Pickle.” (If you’re not familiar with the tradition of the Christmas pickle, it’s a pickle-shaped ornament that you hide in your Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and the first child to find it on Christmas morning gets a treat.)
Mostly, though, Picklesburgh is a chance to eat something unusual that’s been pickled, something normal that’s been pickled in a weird way, or just bizarre pickle-flavored foods like pickle cotton candy, pickle fudge, pickle ice cream, pickle lollipops. or pickle ice tea.
If you ever make your way out to Dearborn, MI you should visit the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. While you’re strolling around the village, you should keep your eyes open for this… The House Where We Began, the boyhood home of pickle magnate Henry J. Heinz. Originally located in Sharpsburg, Heinz had it floated down the Allegheny River so he could make it the centerpiece of his Pittsburgh factory. Years later, Henry Ford bought it shipped it up to Dearborn where he was collecting the homes of businessmen, scientists, and investors whom he admired. It’s right across the street from the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, around the corner from Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park lab, and a short walk from George Washington Carver’s cabin.
You can walk right into most of the buildings in Greenfield Village, and The House Where We Began is no exception. Inside there’s a little history exhibit with biographical information about Heinz and attempting to analyze the key to his success. I found, though, it wound up creating more questions than it answered. Questions like, “Has Heinz always made all sorts of terrible frankensauces?” or “What recipe could possibly call for celery sauce?” or “What the hell is a euchred pickle?”
(Actually, I do have an answer to that last one — it’s some kind of spiced pickle.)