The truth is out there about the jar of pickles on the side of the road near Des Peres, Missouri.
But I don’t want to know the truth – I like a mystery.
The pickles first appeared in 2012 on the ramp that leads from I-270 North to Manchester Road, near a grocery store and busy shopping mall.
More than a decade later, as one jar disappears or breaks, another materializes.
An article at AtlasObscura.com in 2018 described the growing fame of the Des Peres pickles.
Over the years, it says, a jar might topple, empty out, or otherwise abscond but would soon reappear.
“There have been yellow-lidded jars filled with mostly brine and red-labeled ones packed full of slices; Mt. Olives decorated with a festive bow and Vlasics reinforced by Tupperware. But while the particulars of the jar change, its spirit stays the same.”
A Team Pickle Facebook group has grown from a few dozen intrigued locals in 2014 to more than 26,000 followers from all over the world today. I’m one of them.
As a jar vanishes, Team Pickle members describe each new appearance as ‘the pickle jar’, or simply ‘the pickles’ – as in ‘the pickles are back’.
What started the peculiar pickle practice?
It’s the sort of thing that would happen in Minnesota.
We Minnesotans are sports people. We’re booth people. And we’re pickle people.
Everyone has a favorite brand or recipe, and many of us grow our own cucumbers to pickle so we can eat them year round.
I loved to harvest cukes and pickles with my parents in their St Cloud garden. I just wish I'd paid more attention to the preserving.
Luckily I have foodie cousins who have ribbon-winning recipes for everything. And Mom’s old church cookbooks have pickle recipes galore.
My mother enjoyed visiting Grandma Lena’s sister Francie. You never left her farm without jars of pickles, baking, and preserves.
I don’t have a Francie in my life, so if I want pickles I have to buy them or make them myself.
Refrigerator pickles are easy to make.
I also like long slices of sweet pickle in a sandwich with mature cheddar cheese (with a beer).
In my Dad’s time, that would have been a bottle of Buckhorn. It was affordable and he always kept a few boxes in the garage where it was cool even on humid summer days.
Meanwhile, I agree with Barb Steen, who set up the Des Peres Team Pickle Facebook page.
She doesn’t want to know more about the provenance of the original I-270 pickle jar and neither do I.
It’s enough to know that when one jar disappears, the pickles always come back.
Cucumber Refrigerator Pickles
Ingredients 8 cups sliced cucumbers (do not peel); 1 tbsp salt; 2 cups vinegar; 1 green and 2 red peppers, diced; 1 cup sliced onions; 1 tsp celery seeds; 2 cups sugar
Method Mix cucumbers, peppers, onion and salt together and leave overnight. Mix vinegar, celery seeds and sugar together and also leave overnight. In the morning, drain liquid from the cucumber mix. Pour over the vinegar mixture and leave for half a day at room temperature. Then fill pint jars and store them in your refrigerator. Instant coffee jars with red tops are very attractive!
Mrs Leo Dinndorf’s recipe, from the St Anthony’s Christian Women 60th Anniversary Cookbook
Photos Team Pickle, LenaMina.com