[Blogtober Day 24] Why Pittsburgh Has Picklesburgh

I have come to discover that there are two kinds of people in this world: the ones who absolutely love pickles and will add them to any meal they can, and the ones that hate the food – no matter the item pickled – and will stay away from them as often as they are able. However, there is a third group: the ones who are unsure about pickles in general. I, myself, am part of this third category. In today’s blog post for the 24th day of Blogtober, we are going to take a look at the history of Pittsburgh’s famous (or infamous, however you see it) annual festival called Picklesburgh.

Over the past few decades, Pittsburgh has seen many a festival come and go. One of the most popular is the Pittsburgh Irish Festival. They began when I was six years old in 1991, and with the exception of a few years due to inclement weather, they’ve carried on all the way to present day. That’s over thirty years of celebrating Irish and Celtic culture. Even though it’s moved locations several times, it’s a favorite among Pennsylvanians and is very well attended.

Picklesburgh, on the other hand, wasn’t founded until 2015. In fact, the writers over at Discover the Burgh found the very first one, in their words, very underwhelming.

Since the rough first few years, however, the event has seen tremendous growth in both vendor participation and visitor numbers. And, for reasons beyond my comprehension, a pickle juice drinking competition is very, very popular.

If you can get past their puns…

This modern festival was inspired by a very historical Pittsburgh company. Picklesburgh, the brainchild of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (responsible for Light Up Night, the Market Square Farmers Market, Yoga in the Square and other annual events), was inspired by the Heinz Company.

The Kraft Heinz company’s world headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois, with the H. J. Heinz division located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the company was founded. The company’s “keystone” logo is based on that of Pennsylvania, the “keystone state”. Heinz Field was named after the Heinz company in 2001.


While Heinz no longer calls Pittsburgh its home (including it relinquishing naming rights for the Steelers’ stadium), Pittsburgh will carry on its connection with the food-based company. With the H J Heinz Company having been around since 1869, it really is no surprise that it’s Pittsburgh who concocted the world’s first pickle-themed festival.

Pickles have long been an “iconic Pittsburgh food,” said Waldrup. If you need proof, just think of the classic Heinz pickle pin or the city’s beloved sauerkraut pierogi. The annual free festival, sponsored by Heinz, Whole Foods and BNY Mellon (among others), hopes to use that iconic food to draw crowds from Pittsburgh and beyond. So mark your calendars and get ready to celebrate Pittsburgh, summer, and some dill-lightful pickles.

source – Next Pittsburgh

Very Little History but a Certain Future

Unsurprisingly, there is very little info out there about the origins of Picklesburgh itself. There are many, MANY news articles about it, even in small town newspapers like Ellwood City. Even with all my digging, I couldn’t find who officially began Picklesburgh and why. Well, with the “why” I’ll just assume it’s because they love pickles so much. Pickling is a common practice in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres. People have been preserving food this way for millennia, from the strange combinations to the basic cucumber. So while pickling itself is an ancient practice, and the love for the food lives on, I can say with certainty that Picklesburgh will definitely live on.

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Budding #historian. Writer of #adventures and #sciencefantasy. Lover of mushrooms and libraries. Fan of #chocolate, #books and Pennsylvania history.

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