[Editor’s Note: Please enjoy this guest review by Malcolm Bedell. He drives a van and writes about stupid food on his website, Spork & Barrel. He’s getting too old for this sh*t.]
I’m certifiably crazy about pickles. That’s right, I said it. When I was a little kid, my mom would catch me sneaking long pulls off the bottle of pickling liquid left in the bottom of the jar, the green brine rolling down my chin as I closed my eyes to savor every drop like a dry drunk who’s finally been reunited with Tanqueray. When I began shopping for my own groceries, a jar of pickles dipped in sour cream made an outstanding last-minute sodium-rich dinner, and in my twenties, I had more than one Friday night fueled by the rocket fuel combination of shots of whiskey followed by shots of pickle juice (what we in New England call a “pickleback”).
Pickle credentials established, I have to make one more immediate confession. I don’t like these “Pickle Juice Sport” shots, marketed as a health (?) and anti-cramping (??) product, by a company called, “The Pickle Juice Company, LLC.” But because I am both a lover of pickle juice AND a sucker for anything that might alter my brain chemistry, conveniently sold in a two ounce portion next to the scratch-off tickets and the expired Butterfingers, I knew immediately that I had to give them a try. From the website:
“A new study has revealed that pickle brine might be more effective than sports drinks at treating muscle cramps, confirming a longstanding assumption in the sports world. Football players, cyclists and triathletes have been sipping dill-flavored drinks, including bottles of The Pickle Juice Company, LLC, for years. Those who downed the brine stopped complaining of cramping within 85 seconds — about 37 percent faster than the water drinkers and 45 percent faster than when they didn’t drink anything at all.”
Now, let’s be clear. I’m…not an athlete. In fact, I’m not even sure I realized that “cramping” was something your muscles could do. I’ve been laboring under the assumption that muscles were just these stringy bits holding my bones together; I’ve never asked too much of them, and they’ve certainly never offered me anything in return. So I can’t speak to the dubious quasi-medical claims being made by The Pickle Juice Company, LLC, and am not going to waste any of the precious time I have to spend thinking up dick jokes for the internet to follow up on any of their published “research.”
I can, however, speak to the taste of the product.
The first thing I noticed is that “Pickle Juice Sport” is stored (and presumably intended to be served) at room temperature. The website claims that it carries an extended shelf life of up to two years, and is so confident that you’ll want to have a ton of the stuff around that they’ll sell you a plastic 55 gallon drum of Pickle Juice Sport for $500. If you haven’t had the pleasure of chugging 2.5 ounces of warm, shelf-stable pickle juice lately, I’ll try to paint you a word picture.
Imagine brining the least interesting, least flavorful pickle you’ve ever tried in a dirty fishbowl full of tepid aquarium water overnight, and drinking the results. That’s Pickle Juice Sport. Imagine blasting a fog of pickle vapor through a car’s malfunctioning Freon air conditioning system, and inhaling whatever comes through the vents of your ’02 Subaru. That’s Pickle Juice Sport. Imagine the sensation of accidentally biting down on a piece of aluminum foil with one of your half-broken fillings while an ancient Polish woman rubs her generations-old family recipe for garlic dills all over your snout. Oh, and you have the flu. That’s Pickle Juice Sport.
It’s got the basic outline of very mild pickle flavor, with what seems like some kind of wildly out of whack pH, so that instead of the acid you’re expecting from pickle juice, it ends up almost chalky, even though the liquid itself isn’t thick; something like artificial pickle flavoring mixed with the taste of old silverware carried in a base of warm unflavored Pedialyte.
I can’t imagine chugging one of these after any kind of intense athletic endeavor (which is to say, I can’t imagine performing any kind of intense athletic endeavor in the first place). There’s certainly nothing about chugging loose pickle water that’s the same temperature as the inside of your body that seems “refreshing” or even “pleasant” on any level. And I can’t say I noticed any increase in my energy levels, or really any sensation at all other than the slight urge to blow hot pickle juice all over the inside of my car’s upholstery. And at $2 per bottle, I can’t imagine favoring one of these over, say, an ice-cold Gatorade, since those also promise to rehydrate and replenish electrolytes while also somehow tasting like Tropical Mango combined with Pure Magic.
As much as I love pickle juice AND not having cramps, “Pickle Juice Sport” is going to be a hard pass for me. Triathletes may find something to like in the product’s alleged muscle rejuvenation properties, but for those of us just trying to catch a legal buzz off a vial of something or other purchased at a gas station? We’ll stick to the dusty bottles of Pomegranate Five Hour Energy and Extra Strength Stacker 3. Y’know, like adults.
Pickle Juice Sport Extra Strength Shots
- Score: 1 out of 5 aggressive Polish grannies
- Price: $1.99
- Size: 2.5 oz. bottle
- Purchased at: The Shell station down under the highway overpass.
- Cramping: None.