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(Wickles Pickles/Facebook)

They’re a little sweet and a little spicy, with garlic and dill rounding out the unique flavor combination that the folks behind Wickles Pickles call “wickedly delicious.”

Sold in every state including in some 3,300 Walmart stores, the Wickles lineup of more than a dozen pickles and relishes – with more coming soon – may be one of Alabama’s most delicious exports.

The original version boasts thick-sliced fermented cucumbers bathed in Wickles’ signature brine that’s sweetened with cane sugar and spiked with red chile. The flavors dance on the tongue, like the cucumber and pepper caricatures that merrily promenade on the label.

“We use apple cider vinegar, which most pickles don’t use because it’s a lot more expensive,” says Trey Sims, who started making Wickles commercially in Dadeville with his brother Will, and friend Andy Anderson in 1998. “There are no artificial colors. Everything’s colored with turmeric.”

Wickles also produces thinner-sliced sandwich chips, pickled okra, and three kinds of relish. Cauliflower and pearl onions join cukes in the Wicked Garden Mix. Jalapenos punch up the spice level in other Wickles products.

(Wickles Pickles/Facebook)

Then there’s the Dirty Dill series that includes baby pickles, chips, cornichons, and spears. “I made them to what I want my pickle to taste like,” Sims says. “They have a little more dill, a little more garlic, and a little more spice.”

Look for two newcomers this fall: Wicked Garlic with whole cloves pickled in the original sweet-hot brine, and Wicked Hula Pickle that combines the signature pickled cucumber with jalapenos and pineapple.

The name Wickles was coined by Dana Ferniany, a cousin of the Sims brothers. Using her grandmother’s Depression-era recipe, she’d ferment and jar pickles to share with family and give as holiday gifts.

Demand became so great the Sims brothers asked their cousin if they could build a business around Wickles.

With an initial capacity to make only 27 cases a day, each week they’d jar for three days and then load those cases into the back of a pickup truck to sell directly to gourmet groceries and other shops at resort areas and vacation spots including at Lake Martin and beach towns along Florida’s panhandle.

The first big break came when Wickles started supplying jars for Alabama-centric gift baskets that the former Bruno’s grocery chain gave participants in an annual professional senior-tour golf tournament it sponsored at the time in Hoover.

They were such a hit Bruno’s started stocking them in its stores. Other chains followed as customers who tried them during a vacation demanded that their home grocery stores stock Wickles.

Wickles got another boost when television food personality Rachel Ray started singing its praises.

This year, Wickles is on pace to produce more than 1 million cases, Sims says.

(Wickles Pickles/Facebook)

Wickles are so popular, in part, because they’re versatile. The pickles adorn restaurant pizzas. The chips cut through the richness of barbecue sandwiches and cheeseburgers. Wickles appear in salads and on relish trays.

“I can eat half a jar of the dirty dill with a BLT at lunch,” Sims says. “Instead of potato chips I just grab a jar of dill spears.”
Bartenders garnish Bloody Marys and other cocktails with Wickles’ pickled okra or cornichons. Either style – sweet-hot or dirty-dill – are popular additions to meat-and-cheese charcuterie boards.

“We have a lot of people tell us it’s their secret ingredient in potato salad or deviled eggs,” Sims says. “But then they tell us in the next breath that they will not tell anybody that. It’s like they discovered it, they own it, and they’re not telling anybody.”

Need more ideas? The Wickles Pickles website features recipes including Mexican-style street corn salad with Wickles Wicked Jalapeno, and Wickles Dirty Dill Chicken Wings.

Fan experiments sometimes reach extremes, like the “Wickle-tini” garnished with Wicked Okra. Then there’s the person on a social media video who seasoned a jar of baby dills with a pack of powdered Ranch dressing.

“There’s a lot of off the wall stuff out there,” Sims says. “We had one chef who was grinding the okra up into a sauce.”

He pauses and reflects. “Actually, it was a really good sauce.”