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July 30, 2012


Chips and Pickles – American obsession or just plain awesome?

by Jason Dutton-Smith
Classic American hamburger

With most sandwich lunches in America you will find a common – and I think interesting – addition to your sandwich plate. You don’t have to ask for it, it’s just always there – something I found that is almost as “American as apple pie”.   Both are crunchy and salty and one a little bit sour but they make the perfect pair and complement any sandwich.  I’m talking about the pickle and potato chip, and I was curious how it all got started…

So I put it to several trusted, intelligent and well rounded American friends…would you ever have a sandwich without chips and pickle on the side? And the response varied from “heck no!” to “never thought about it but would miss it if they weren’t there” to “don’t forget the coleslaw too!”. I tried to Google the origins of potato chips and pickles and their history as a side, but nothing. So what is it about these simple sides that made them so popular, and so accepted and even expected? What do people love about them and how did they become so popular? Does anyone actually know the answer to these burning questions?

Well here is my theory (which really I’m making up but kind of makes sense?). The chips are there for a crunchy texture and a salty addition between sandwich bites. And the pickle? Well it’s a great palate cleanser and another all-together different texture – the sour taste and crisp crunch of a cold pickle will neutralise the pastrami, onions or tuna and leave a fresh, crisp taste.  It’s also just an easy, informal way of including the potato and veg that so many of us like.

But really, who doesn’t love a good handful of chips with a fresh pickle?  So I guess the real question is….why not?

If you have any theories or know why the potato chip and pickle have become the ubiquitous luncheon sides that they are, then let us know in the comment field below!  Let us know what you like about them too.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amanda Johnson
    Jul 30 2012

    lol… we were just talking about this the other day!
    i love a good pickle and chip with my sandwich and think they should serve it in Australia as a standard too ; )



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