• 1301 NW 114th Street
  • Clive, IA 50235
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Wobbly Boots BBQ

The Intriguing History of a Delicious Appetizer – the Fried Pickle

Fried pickles are a delicious appetizer, but surprisingly enough, not a menu item that a lot of people have given a try. That seems strange to us because just about everyone loves pickles and pretty much no one can resist anything deep-fried. Also, they taste delicious paired with the best BBQ in Des Moines! The fried pickle is actually a delicacy throughout the southern United States and we’ve brought our own delicious version to Iowa at Wobbly Boots Roadhouse.

Whether you decide to have fried pickles for a snack, an appetizer, or as a delicious side dish, it’s an item that is sure to be a new favorite once you’ve tasted it. Here at the Boot, each order consists of a half-pound of pickle chips that have been hand-breaded in our specially seasoned flour and then fried to a beautiful golden brown. We serve them with a side of chipotle ranch, and they even taste amazing dipped in our very own house-made BBQ sauce.


Who Invented the Fried Pickle?

While our family restaurant in Des Moines has one of the best fried pickle recipes you’ll ever experience, we can’t take credit for inventing this tasty treat. As with most origin stories, more than one person takes credit for coming up with the recipe. There is record of a “French Fried Pickle” recipe being published as early as 1962 for the Food Editors Conference in New York.

Another story, which sounds like it originated too late to truly be the original, is from the Hollywood Cafe out of Hollywood, Mississippi. Their tale from 1969 begins with a crowded restaurant and a cook without enough catfish to feed them all. In desperation, he reached for the industrial-sized jar of dill pickles that was handy, rolled them in the catfish batter, dropped them in the fryer, and served them to the patrons. They were an immediate hit.



Perhaps the most popular story, which seems to fit into a more plausible time frame, is out of Atkins, Arkansas. In 1963, Bernell “Fatman” Austin owned the Duchess Drive-In across the highway from the Atkins Pickle Plant. (FYI: Atkins is known as the pickle capital of Arkansas!) Staring across the street at the pickle plant, Bernell was inspired to create a recipe. That particular recipe is a well-guarded, family secret to this day. You can now only get a taste of Bernell’s original creation once a year at the annual Picklefest held in May in Atkins. The family dishes up about 2,500 orders of the “Fatman’s Original Fried Dill Pickles” at every festival and the money raised is used for scholarships and charities that Bernell supported.

At some point in the late 1990s, three high school friends brought the southern deep-fried pickle to the Minnesota State Fair, calling them the “Preferred Pickle.” They were so popular, the same three friends began manufacturing them under KWF Foods and selling them to the food service industry.



Try Some at the Boot

Regardless of who truly get the credit for inventing the original fried pickle, our Des Moines BBQ restaurant has perfected our own recipe! The next time you’re here, live a little and try something new. Ask for an order of Wobbly Boots BBQ’s delicious fried pickles from the appetizer menu and you just may have found your new favorite dish!

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