Americans in a Pickle Over Russian Hangover Cure

Pickles are enjoyed while imbibing, while the juice helps in the aftermath. Vladimir Filonov

WASHINGTON, June 10 (RIA Novosti) — A couple of Americans have discovered a way to make pickle juice, a traditional cure for a hangover in Russia, cool: freeze it and make popsicles.

David Millar of California launched Bobs Pickle Pops back in 2007 with his cousin in Texas, John Howard, who owned a skating rink where pickle juice was offered to patrons as a refreshment drink for its thirst-quenching capabilities.

"One time, in 2007, when I went to visit, John handed me a pickle popsicle, which was frozen pickle juice, and I thought, wow, we could be onto something," Millar told RIA-Novosti.

The cousins first set about packaging their pickle pops by hand, using a turkey baster to fill up plastic tubing and then sealing each tube with a heat sealer.

Bob’s Pickle Pops executives have no intention of entering the Russian market, because they realize they have little added value.

They packaged 10,000 pickle popsicles that way before they decided the artisan route was not the way to go and they teamed up with a specialty food packaging company, which took over the packaging of the pickle pops, paying the cousins a royalty and letting them do the marketing for the tangy pops.

In 2011, the pickle pops hit the big time when the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, called the cousins, "said they loved the product and put it into 900 stores," Millar said.

Millar was unable to say how many pickle pops were sold last year — that's in the purview of the large company that processes the pops. But he did say that the royalties he receives for pickle pop sales are not enough for him to retire on … yet.

There's still room for growth in the United States — pickle pops are mostly available in the hot, humid southern states, Millar said.

But Bob's Pickle Pops has no plans to enter the Russian market "because anyone can freeze their own pickle juice, so why pay shipping and handling and buy it from us?"

Scientific studies have found pickle juice to be a good way to alleviate cramps and to lower blood sugar.

But Bob's Pickle Pops is not allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to claim on its label or in promotional material that pickle pops are a good hangover cure because no one has carried out a double-blind test to see if the briny brew reduces the feelings you get the morning after tying one on, Millar said.

"But empirically, when I try it myself, it works," he said.

Read more