What’s the first thing that comes to mind when we say “summer refresher”?
You’ll probably say lemonade. In fact, in most parts of United States, that would be the most popular answer.
But not in Mississippi. Ask anyone who comes from the Delta region of the Magnolia State – the wide swathe of northwest Mississippi that lies between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, and they’ll say: Koolickles.
Koolickles are nothing but dill pickles double-dipped in Kool-Aid. The bath in a colored Kool-Aid drink adds a candy sweetness to the acidic taste of pickle vinegar, and it’s utterly refreshing to suck on a Koolickle popsicle during hot, muggy summer months when the temperature is somewhere north of 90 degrees.
But when you think about it, Koolickles do make an awful lot of sense. Acidic flavors stimulate salivation when outside conditions are dehydrating and the body needs a regular supply of moisture. Early Southern settlers, for example, used to drink vinegar water to revive themselves when they worked outdoors in the sweltering heat. In present day Mississippi, the acidity of pickle vinegar is spiked with the fruity sweetness of Kool-Aid, and Koolickles have been a smash hit here, ever since it was first discovered south of Clarksdale, in the Washington County city of Leland.
Colorful Koolickles are available everywhere in small Delta towns these days, and you’ll probably find some in neighborhood convenience stores like Double Quick to eat with your bag of Mississippi Cheese Straws. They’re often advertised as `Pickoolas’ as well. In fact, sales of this interesting Mississippi treat have become so profitable that Double Quick applied for a Koolickle trademark in 2007.
It is true that Koolickles are a bit of an acquired taste. For first-timers, the idea a neon-colored pickled dill dunked in Kool-Aid is a little hard to swallow. New York Times once commented that they were “either the worst thing to happen to pickles since plastic brining barrels or a brave new taste sensation to be celebrated”.
But how do you find out if you like the taste of Koolickles if you don’t live in the South?
Easy. Make it at home. The recipe (given below) is pretty simple and it’s a pretty fun thing to make for your next picnic or weekend lunch. And just so you know, it isn’t just kids and women who adore the taste of Koolickles. Full-grown Mississippian males are also known to relish spears of Crayola-colored dill pickles as they cheer Mississippi Bulldogs/Ole Miss Rebels go grab the Egg Bowl.
How To Make Koolickles (Kool-Aid Pickles)
• Jar of whole dill pickles: 1 gallon
• Sugar: 1 lb
• Kool-Aid Sachets: 2 (unsweetened, any flavor)
1) Drain pickle juice from the jar of pickles and set aside.
2) Slice the pickles in half (lengthwise) and return them to the jar.
3) Mix sugar and Kool-Aid with the pickle juice you set aside, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
4) Pour this liquid mix into the jar, making sure that the dill pickles are completely covered.
5) Close the jar and put it in the fridge for at least a week, until the color and flavors have transferred into the pickles.