Pickles come in many flavors, from bread and butter to garlic. But adventurous pickle lovers can also try the koolickle, which comes in a rainbow of colors and flavors, courtesy of a week-long curing in Kool-Aid. The creative combination of dill pickle and beverage powder hails from the Mississippi Delta, where koolickles are sold at small community stores for a dollar.
While no one claims the title of “inventor of the koolickle,” the colorful snacks fit into the American South’s pickling culture, which includes pickled okra, pickled watermelon rind, and pickled peaches. They’re well-known and widely-eaten. The Mississippi-based convenience store chain Double Quick sells them as “Pickoolas.” Another version is sold under the name “SnoCo Pickles,” but it’s made with snow cone syrup rather than Kool-Aid.
Corner store employees make koolickles by the dozen, either in their original jars or large mayonnaise containers. But making koolickles at home is fairly easy. You drain the brine from a jar of pickles into a bowl, mix in a package or two of unsweetened Kool-Aid powder and white sugar, and pour it all back into the jar. Soaking pickles whole creates a corona of color around the circumference of the pickle. Slicing pickles lengthwise before curing allows Kool-Aid to permeate the interior of the pickle with a bright jewel tone—a much more dramatic effect. Devotees recommend leaving pickles in their Kool-Aid bath for at least a week. Every flavor is fruity and sweet, with a vinegar bite.
And what does Kool-Aid think of all this? Their website features a recipe for cherry koolickles and gingerly endorses them as “worth a try!”