News broke in March of 2016 that Newfoundland was in store for its biggest cultural loss since Eversweet Margarine came off the shelves. Manufacturers of cheap and soggy pickles, soaked in tasteless low-end mustard, have decided to discontinue their mustard pickles.
The audible crack heard across the country on the day of the announcement was mistaken by neighbouring provinces as an earthquake, but was in fact the sound of 100,000 human hearts breaking in unison.
While riots were expected, and police presence was stepped up at the few remaining food vendors bragging they still had some “MPs” for sale, no one could have expected March-long headlines like, “Wife Handcuffs Husband to Bathroom Towel Bar During Fit of Paranoia He’d Betray Their Pact to Save Last Jar of Mustard Pickles for a Special Occasion.”
When asked why we can’t simply squirt mustard onto some cut-up pickles ourselves – a simple two step process in which we could use better mustard on fresher pickles – the province collectively shrugged its shoulders, looking at each other for the answer, until one person declared the obvious. “It’s just not the same b’y! Mudder always had ‘em in the fridge when I was growin’ up. Nan too! Nan friggen loved ‘em all over her bit of ham! She’d gobble ‘em right up!”
Two doctors from University of Ottawa’s School of Psychiatry have joined forces with a representative of New York’s prestigious Institute of Culinary Education, and the trio are on the island trying to ascertain why its native people are so mournful over store-bought three-dollar pickles.
“The way I saw it at first,” says lead investigator Dr. P Ickles, “is that mustard pickles are like mediocre artists: no one really cared about them until their demise tore through social media, and then everyone was their biggest fan.
Yet, the more we read about the mustard pickle mayhem, the more we saw an opportunity to study the nostalgic nuttiness of Newfoundlanders.” Dr. Ickles’ research focuses on irrational behaviour; he was last in St. John’s in late 2015, investigating what led to city council’s 2016 budget.
We contacted famed local chef Jeremy Charles for his insight. “No doubt, you’ve noticed from restaurant menus far and wide, or from internet memes in your social media feeds, it’s the year of ‘you can pickle that!’ You can, and we do – everyone’s cheese and charcuterie boards are now skimping on cured meats to make room for pickled this and pickled that.
“So to hear, at the height of the pickling revolution, we’re losing the classic, the Romeo & Juliet of culinary marriages, the inspiration for everything I’ve done with my life: the mustard pickle,” he shakes his head in disbelief, “I’m thinking of throwing in the towel and switching career paths to be honest. If the powers that be are hauling mustard pickles from shelves, then I simply don’t know the modern food industry like I thought I did.”
Dr. Ickles says he recently received an anonymous tip that a mob of mustard pickle lovers have bought video footage from a Shopper’s Drug Mart employee. “Presumably it was to identify anyone who bought remaining stores in bulk. If this was you, lock your front door: they’re coming, they’re ravenous, they’re irrational.”