Save the Deli

Jon Orren’s Wheelhouse Pickles

I want to talk about pickles…

The question is, am I a half sour or a full sour? Well, to tell you the truth, in all the confusion, I kinda forgot. So you gotta ask yourself, “Do I feel hungry?”. Well do ya, punk?

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to meet a softspoken Brooklynite named Jon Orren, who, when my big fat mouth finally gave him a chance to speak, told me about his pickle company. You see, Jon was always a pickle lover, and he ate so many as a kid that his mom refused to buy him jar after jar of pickles. She said that if he wanted to eat pickles, Jon could get some cucumbers from the garden and soak them in the leftover brine. Needless to say that a passion was born, and though Jon spent years in some of New York’s most fabled kitchens as a chef, his love for pickles remained strong.

And so, Wheelhouse Pickles was born. Based in Brooklyn (true pickling country), they make all variety of small batch, preservative free pickles, including the classic deli sour, but also seven other varieties of pickled veg, including horseradish soaked wax beans and pickled pears.

Here’s Jon talking about the pickle process, dressed like The Boss:

Now I’m writing about this for several reasons:
1. Jon’s a really, truly, heartfelt mensch of a guy
2. A deli sandwich isn’t complete without the cool saline snap of a full (or half) sour pickle
3. His story tells us something. Jon wasn’t from a pickle or deli family. He was an ordinary pickle lover with an obsession, and he took that obsession from the family kitchen to country fairs, to farmers markets, and now to a full fledged factory with sales all over New York and the USA. It’s the power of deli passion and it should inspire us all. Whether it’s pickles, knishes, or pastrami, the best way for us to save the deli is to encourage young entrepreneurs like Jon and Wheelhouse Pickles to keep at it.

And by encourage I mean buy!

Plus, they have some really sweet swag, and genuinely cute models to display it on. Makes me think that Save the Deli ought to do some of that…start pushing those thongs.

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