Penn State senior Jackie Tucker has a passion for pickles.
As a self-affirmed pickle aficionado, Tucker naturally decided to create a pickle-inspired Instagram account. The page, “Fried Pickle Paradise,” consists of posts of her rating and reviewing pickles from State College, small pickle brands, and every pickle in between.
Reading: how to make tucker’s fried pickles
“I know this is totally weird, but that’s the thing,” Tucker, a marketing major, said. “Me and my roommates have just always loved pickles. It’s always been a thing of ours.”
Pennsylvania now requires customers to order food at bars if they want to get a drink. When Tucker and her friends would go out to bars, they saw that fried pickles were a common menu item. Naturally, they decided to give them a shot, and fried pickles became a staple.
The Instagram account started off as a private “finsta” for Tucker and her friends, but once she made the account public, it started to gain a decent following. Although it’s called “Fried Pickle Paradise,” Tucker posts about regular pickles, pickleback shots, and even pickle clothing, too.
“It’s a lot of fun now,” Tucker said. “I’m a marketing student, so I love doing all this social media stuff, just playing around with the marketing and branding of it. That’s kind of how I got started.”
As the account grew, more and more people in the pickle community started to interact with Tucker. A lot of small pickle companies DM her and ask her to review their pickles.
Tucker doesn’t have a set process for selecting her pickles. If she comes across a new pickle, she’ll try it. She’s always up for trying out new spots in downtown State College.
“A lot of other times I’ll just stumble across a pickle account and give them a follow and just try to start a relationship with them,” Tucker said. “Or whenever I’m just at the grocery store and I see something, I’ll try it.”
Tucker frequents local restaurants and bars and shouts out their pickle game on Instagram.
“All the restaurants and bars downtown really appreciate me posting about them, just like with COVID and everything, they’re just trying to get as much business as they can,” Tucker said. “I love supporting local, small businesses.”
Of course, someone who runs an Instagram would have her top picks for pickles, and Tucker sure did deliver with her hot takes. If you’re ever in a pickle deciding on where to purchase a pickle appetizer, Tucker has you covered. She covered four categories: store-bought pickles, regular pickles (from a restaurant or bar), fried pickles, and pickleback shots.
Tucker’s favorite store-bought pickle is from a brand called Grillos. She noted that they can be hard to find and can be a bit pricey, making them what she calls a “luxury pickle.” Claussen pickles are her pick for an “everyday, staple pickle.”
She also raves about the small pickle businesses she connects with through her account. One of which is called SeaZoned Pickles, which she recently reviewed on Instagram.
“They were so good, they had all the garlic and stuff in them,” Tucker said.
The best pickles in State College hail from Primanti Bros, and so does the best deal. Whole Kosher pickles are available for just $1, and they’re huge.
“They’re honestly like the size of your hand,” Tucker said.
Next up in Tucker’s ratings are fried pickles. Bill Pickles Taproom has been her favorite for a while, but Cafe 210 West is stepping up its pickle game. Cafe recently switched its pickle recipe, and Tucker thinks the fried pickle is pulling ahead of Pickle’s.
All good fried pickles need a dipping sauce, and Tucker feels strongly about that. Pickle’s and Cafe serve chipotle ranch or sriracha aioli-type sauces with their pickles. But Pmans serves its fried pickles without a dipping sauce.
“The sauce can honestly make or break the pickle,” Tucker said.
Tucker and her friends pair their fried pickles with pickleback shots while they’re out at bars in downtown State College. Her favorite spots for these are Pickle’s and Champs.
Unfortunately, not all bars and restaurants are created equal. Some don’t have any pickles at all, which is a huge disappointment for Tucker. The Gaff doesn’t have any pickles or relish or pickles for their hot dogs, either.
“We bring our own pickles when we go there,” Tucker said. “We put them in my purse.”
Although Tucker is a senior, she still has hopes to continue Fried Pickle Paradise as best she can.
“I’m not sure exactly what my schedule is going be like, but I think it’s definitely manageable and something I want to keep up,” Tucker said. “I’m having a lot of fun with it now.”
Tucker has received many DMs on Instagram of new pickles to try, so those will keep her busy over the summer.
“We love pickles, and apparently a lot of other people do too, so join the pickle community,” Tucker said.