Many a pickle packs a pucker

O pickle, my love / What a beautiful pickle you are!

Blame it on Nancy Friedman (@Fritinancy on Twitter), who took us down to the pickle plant in Santa Barbara on 7/18, citing these 5 delights, with their label descriptions:

Unbeetables (pickled beets with unbeatable heat) – pun on unbeatable

Carriots of Fire (pickled carrots to light your torch) – punning allusion to the film Chariots of Fire

¡Ay Cukarambas! (dill-icious spicy dill pickle spears) – complex portmanteau of the American Spanish exclamation ¡ay caramba! and the noun cuke ‘cucumber’

Asparagusto (pickled asparagus with a kick) – portmanteau of asparagus and gusto

Bread & Buddhas (semi-sweet bread & butter pickles) – pun on bread and butter (pickles)


Pickles are automatically phallicity territory, and the Pacific Pickle Works in Santa Barbara CA (website here) doesn’t shy away from their penis potential, augmenting it by references to phallic carrots, asparagus spears, and unpickled cucumbers. If you have the eye for it, we all live in Penis Town.

Artistically arranged display on the PPW website:


The company’s own copy, heavy with word-initial /p/ and vivid word choices, generally evoking the picture of PPW as a place of fun, fun, fun (till some meanie takes the pickles away):

Fresh from the farm to our sunny Santa Barbara factory, peak-season produce is hand-packed in the bold & spicy brine that makes a West Coast pickle truly shine. Our signature recipe blends punchy California chiles and umami-rich aromatics with a classic vinegar pucker and delightfully snackable crunch. Whether you mix up a batch of savory cocktails with our award winning mixers or pluck a pickle straight from the jar, we hope you enjoy sharing a taste of the good life with great friends. We‘re stoked to be sharing this one with you.

(#2) The pickle-plucking poem (from AZ, not PPW); in performance, the noun cuke in the final line can be freely varied

Nine more from PPW, again with the playful label descriptions:

Pandemic Pickles (spicy habanero caraway pickles)

No Big Dill (baby kosher dill pickles) – pun on the idiom no big deal, perfect for varieties with the lowering of ɪ to ɛ before l (so that deal and dill are homophones); imperfect (but very close) for the rest of us

Mother’s Puckers (home-style garlic dill pickle halves) – play on the vulgar insult motherfucker (well, muthafucka), plus a reference to the puckering of the lips on consuming sour things, like pickles and pickle brine; perhaps — much more outrageously, taking a cue from the sexual verb fuck — an allusion to the puckered appearance of the anus

Pickles Under the Ginfluence (brined with gin, rosemary, and jalapeños) – a pun on the idiom under the influence ‘drunk’, plus a portmanteau of gin and influence

Jalabeaños (pickled green beans in a spicy jalapeño brine) – a complex portmanteau of jalapeño and bean

Brussizzle Sprouts (semi-sweet and tangizzy pickled Brussels sprouts) – a complex portmanteau of Brussels sprouts and sizzle

Stokra (totally killer pickled okra) –  portmanteau of slangy stoked ‘excited, euphoric’ and okra

Cauliflower Power (peace, love, and pickled cauliflower) – rhyming cauliflower and power, plus an allusion to the 60s slogan flower power

Fenn Shui (pickled fennel slices in rice vinegar) — play on Feng Shui (using the fenn– of fennel), adding to the overall Chinese effect

Selected background notes.

— Nancy Friedman, also dba Fritinancy, from her own site:

Nancy Friedman, chief wordworker of Wordworking, is a name developer, corporate copywriter, and recovering journalist.

A notable observer of language in advertising.

Chariots of Fire, the 1981 film. From Wikipedia:

The film’s title was inspired by the line “Bring me my Chariot of fire!” from the William Blake poem adapted into the British hymn “Jerusalem”; the hymn is heard at the end of the film. The original phrase “chariot(s) of fire” is from 2 Kings 2:11 and 6:17 in the Bible.

caramba. From NOAD:

excl. carambainformal, often humorous an expression of surprise or dismay: ay caramba! ORIGIN mid 19th century: from Spanish. [in Spanish, euphemistic variant of vulgar carajo]

And then on carajo, from Wiktionary:

masc. noun carajo: 1. (vulgar) penis | No importa ser inteligente si tienes grande el carajo. ‘Being smart doesn’t matter if you have a big dick.’ 2. [AZ: as a vulgar minimizer] (un carajo) shit (US), jackshit (US), sod all (UK), bugger all (UK) | [No] me importa un carajo. ‘I don’t give a fuck.’ 3. (al carajo) hell | ¡Vete al carajo! ‘go to hell! bugger off!’

bread-and-butter pickles (with various spelling variants, notably the separated bread and butter pickles). From OED3 (Sept. 2020):

bread-and-butter pickle  n. North American (in plural or as a mass noun) a sweet pickle made from sliced cucumber pickled in seasoned brine, typically eaten on sandwiches. (Apparently so called because originally eaten just with bread and butter.) [1923 and 1968 cites with recipes; 2019 The burger features two certified grass-fed patties .. on a potato bun. The Double is topped with bread-and-butter pickles made in-house.]

pucker. From NOAD:

puckerverb (especially with reference to a person’s face) tightly gather or contract into wrinkles or small folds: [with object]:  the baby stirred, puckering up its tiny face | [no object]:  her brows puckered in a frownnoun a tightly gathered wrinkle or small fold, especially on a person’s face: a pucker between his eyebrows. PHRASES pucker up contract one’s lips as in preparation for a kiss.

And from OED3 (Sept. 2007) on the noun:

A tightly gathered wrinkle or small fold; a pleat, crease, or gathering in a piece of cloth or the like, as caused by drawing a thread or seam too tightly. Also: a ridge, wrinkle, or corrugation of the skin of the face, brow, lips, etc.

stoked. From NOAD:

adj. stoked: informal, mainly North American excited or euphoric: when they told me I was on the team, I was stoked.

The adjective is a metaphorical development from a fire-tending verb; from OED2 (currently in revision):

1. a. transitive. To feed, stir up, and poke the fire in (a furnace), to tend the furnace of (a boiler). Also, to feed or build up (a fire), and with up.

The OED has the AmE slang usage in cites from 1963 on.

One Response to “Many a pickle packs a pucker”

  1. Robert Southwick Richmond Says:

    A seriously old pickle joke – I heard it when I was a college freshman in 1955 – i’m sure Arnold can provide an appropriate grammatical analysis.

    There was this guy worked in a pickle factory. And for years he’d had an obsession to stick his dick in the pickle slicer. So one day he did it.

    And he went home and said to his wife, “Honey, I got fired today”.

    “What for?”

    “I stuck my dick in the pickle slicer.”

    “Good Lord, what happened to it? Let’s see it!”

    He whipped it out and it was quite unscathed.

    “What happened to the pickle slicer?”

    “Oh, she got fired too.”

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