HOME > Chowhound > Great Lakes >
What are you cooking today? Tell us about it

Pickles of the Great Lakes!

JanPrimus May 3, 2010 06:06 AM

By request.....

What are the great Pickle producers in the Great Lakes Area.

I know people will slam them because of cost but I am a die hard McClures fan. They recently put out a Bloody Mary mix that I have to find! :)


  1. g
    Goldendog May 3, 2010 06:44 AM

    I love the "new pickles" from Topor's of Detroit, sold at Meijers among other places. But you have to eat them quick--they go from "new" to half sour to full sour in a matter of 2 -3 weeks, even in the coldest part of your fridge. They also make a great pickle called "Goldens"---sorta like a half sour but with a touch of vinegar in them---but they are really hard to find. I've only found 3-4 times at Salvaggios in the last couple of years.

    They are not really local, but if they still carry them Trader Joes sells a fabulous half sour.

    Bessinger pickles of Aus Gres and Hausbecks of Saginaw make fantastic products but I don't know how far south their distribution goes. I've tried the 2 McClures a couple of times and even with cost aside, I really didn't like them. Although I don't think they add sugar I find they have a weird sweet flavor.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Goldendog
      Fibber McGee May 3, 2010 07:13 AM

      Growing up in West Bloomfield I knew Vlasic was headquartered there as well. Does anyone know where they were specifically in WB?
      Grew up on Topor's pickles and tomatoes. Still love 'em.

      1. re: Fibber McGee
        Goldendog May 3, 2010 08:16 AM

        Vlasic had a HUGE pickle and sauerkraut plant in Bridgeport (Saginaw). When the kraut was curing you could smell it for miles and miles around town. They had the annual kraut festival and queen--a big tourist draw. Also, all of the the nations Open Pit barbecue sauce was made there. After many mergers and shutdowns in the 80's Vlasic and Open Pit have left Bridgeport and are now headquartered somewhere in New Jersey.

        1. re: Goldendog
          gooddog May 3, 2010 03:50 PM

          I believe Vlasic was sold ages ago to Campbell's (of soup fame), then a few years after that spun off with some other underperforming brands as Pinnacle Foods. I thought they still had a huge pickle processing plant in Imlay City. I remember a year or two ago being at the Imlay City Blueberry festival where they had a pickle eating contest with the huge jars of Vlasic on hand.
          Did they ever make the pickles in WB or was that just their offices?

          1. re: gooddog
            JanPrimus May 3, 2010 06:16 PM

            It was just offices.

        2. re: Fibber McGee
          JanPrimus May 3, 2010 08:19 AM

          I can remember the building was 2-3 story brown brick outside and had lower walls that had a skateboarders dream transition from sidewalk to wall. It was on the north side of a east west mile road....that is all I can remember.

        3. re: Goldendog
          tokyo May 17, 2010 05:57 AM

          After all this talk of Topor's, I hunted down a jar of their New Pickles, but I was disappointed! The pickles were not quite crisp, almost bordering on limp. The flavor was good, but they didn't have that 'fresh' crunch I was hoping for.

        4. tokyo May 3, 2010 10:40 AM

          I don't care for Vlasic, period. Not their relish, not their peppers... I am always looking for more of the crisp, deli pickle variety along the lines of Claussen. Does anyone know if Cool Crisp pickles are available to the public anywhere? They are out of Lexington, MI and I love their 'hamburger slices'. However, their website only allows food service providers to purchase. www.gielowpickles.com

          Has anyone tried Tony Packo's pickle & pepper mix? (of Toledo, OH fame


          JanPrimus - it's not that I don't love McClure's but how on earth do you afford them? I cannot bring myself to make that purchase, EVER. I have tried. My financial conscience just won't allow it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: tokyo
            JanPrimus May 3, 2010 10:54 AM

            Just let me say that I do not get them that often....but I enjoy the living hell out of what I do get.

            I think the pickle and pepper mix might be the only good food thing about Tony Packo's. I drove down to Toledo to give the place a try and those hot dogs should play in Traffic some more. I rather hit up a random Detroit Coney.

            Tony Packo's Cafe
            7 S Superior St, Toledo, OH 43604

            1. re: tokyo
              Fibber McGee May 3, 2010 10:59 AM

              I'm not a big Vlasic fan, myself. Very little distinction with the store brands, so why pay more?
              I like the Packos pickles and peppers. And JP is right, the hot dogs they serve at the restauarnat are nowhere near as good as what is around Detroit. Northern Ohio seems to have their own take on the coney, maybe well inspired by Packo's. There's coney places a pleny around of North of the Lincoln Highway. (US 30). The dogs and chili, not to mention toppings, are as good.

              1. re: tokyo
                boagman May 9, 2010 05:42 PM

                Oddly, I just tried Vlasic pickles this week for the first time in quite a while, and I've got to rescind at least part of what I said: these aren't the Vlasics I remember. The kosher dill spears I had were positively *limp*, and the texture had absolutely no crispness at all. What's happened to them in recent years? I remember Vlasic as being at least passable, if not good, but these...these are just unsatisfying.

                Have Vlasics been like this for some time?

              2. JanPrimus May 3, 2010 11:15 AM

                It should also be said in this thread...if you mention Mount Olive....

                You get SHOT! Er...I mean Shunned.

                1. s
                  Sailing77 May 3, 2010 11:20 AM

                  I really like Milwaukee brand pickles. Especially the midgets. When I was a kid I know they were made in Wisconsin. I don't know for sure if they are still made there though. Probably now made in New York City.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sailing77
                    Rick from Point May 3, 2010 03:33 PM

                    I was crushed when Milwaukee Pickles discontinued their Polska Wyrob Ogorka z Koprem. Anybody familiar with them and whether somebody sells something similar in the region? I'd drive a good ways, maybe even all the way to Pittsville, for a pickle this good.

                  2. b
                    boagman May 3, 2010 04:13 PM

                    The Cool Crisps are, indeed, pretty good. Honeybaked Ham serve their individually wrapped dill spears with their sandwiches, and I've never been disappointed.

                    I guess I'm not averse to Vlassic as some of you are, though I fully admit to being turned off by the use of the food coloring in just about *any* pickle. Really? You need to turn it some kind of "not-in-God's-creation green" in order for it to look like a "proper" pickle? Make the bad man stop, please.

                    I don't think I've had McClure's pickles, myself, but I'll be the first to say that based on their price alone, I can't see them being worth it. That being said, I'm going to be at least *partially* hypocritical and give an absolute lustful thumbs-up to Ozark Pickle Pantry out of Missouri. Their Ozark Sweet Tangy Dill chips, at $6.50 per 16 oz. jar (plus shipping, obviously) might be more expensive than I'm used to paying, but oh, sweet mother of pearl...I think that they're probably the best pickles I've ever eaten in my life. There *may* be better ones out there, yes...I just haven't come across them yet. I actually ordered a case of them for Christmas one year, and gave half of them away and kept half for myself. They were exceptionally well-received. The only reason I came across them is that I was gifted a Pickle of the Month subscription as a joke from a friend of mine; little did she know what joy it would bring me.

                    Their website is www.ozarkpicklepantry.com. I would *totally* be willing to split the cost of ordering a case or two with anyone else interested. That way, we'd save on shipping costs, and we could get exactly what we want.

                    Darn you, JP...DARN YOU! Now I'm dying for these things!

                    27 Replies
                    1. re: boagman
                      Rheta May 3, 2010 05:44 PM

                      For a crisp, deli style pickle it's TOPOR'S all the away. I do enjoy Milwaukee pickles as well. Their pickles remind me of the pickles my mother used to make. I like Milwaukee pickles with a nice cheeseburger. When my mom would make pickles when I was a kid I would always take them out of the brine before they were bottled and eat them. At that point they tasted just like TOPOR'S!

                      1. re: boagman
                        tokyo May 3, 2010 06:02 PM

                        Pickle of the Month Club?! Yes, please!!!

                        Has anyone ever seen Topor's available up north (Petoskey, Gaylord, Cheboygan, TC, etc.)?


                        1. re: boagman
                          coney with everything May 4, 2010 04:58 AM

                          Boagman, last year the McClures folks had a table at the RO farmers market with samples. We almost bought a jar, but my DH balked at the price...but he LOVED the pickles.

                          I read they are making bloody mary mix, might spring for that.

                          1. re: coney with everything
                            momskitchen May 4, 2010 03:31 PM

                            Stay tuned...I am working on my home made pickle recipe that will taste like McClures...I've just got to make a few tweaks to what I did last year and I will have it mastered....keep an eye on my blog for it. It's an easy pickle to make, and you can make your own for less than $1 per jar.

                            1. re: momskitchen
                              JanPrimus May 4, 2010 03:48 PM

                              MomsKitchen....you are the wind beneath my wings! :)

                              1. re: JanPrimus
                                momskitchen May 6, 2010 03:52 AM

                                JP, hopefully I will get it right...I think I will. I was pretty close last year. Can't wait for summer this year...

                                1. re: momskitchen
                                  JanPrimus May 14, 2010 11:09 AM

                                  I hope so too....I just bought a entire flat of Pickle plants! :)

                                  1. re: JanPrimus
                                    momskitchen May 14, 2010 07:37 PM

                                    Sweet! This will be the summer of the pickle...

                                    1. re: momskitchen
                                      momskitchen Jul 17, 2010 04:38 AM

                                      Okay, my pickles came out great.....check out my blog at motherskitchen.blogspot.com and search for "pickles" and you will find the technique to make pickles that taste like McClures.

                                      1. re: momskitchen
                                        JanPrimus Jul 18, 2010 09:31 PM

                                        I bow at your feet!

                                    2. re: JanPrimus
                                      Rheta May 15, 2010 10:41 AM

                                      That's awesome! I have a pickle recipe that tastes just like Topors. Actually better than Topors. But I guess you are more of a McClures fan.

                                      1. re: Rheta
                                        JanPrimus May 15, 2010 10:53 AM

                                        It has been a loooong time since I have had Topors but I do not remember it grabbing me like McClures does.

                                        On a side note I was at the Royal Oak Farmers Market this morning and tried the Bloody Mary Mix from McClures....it tasted like the Pickling Juice from the Spicy Pickles added into a tomato sauce. So instead of getting the mix I just got another jar of Spicy. I will mix up my own. It was good...but I think I tasted how it is done and I already have a good stock of the spicy juice in my fridge.

                                        Trying to get that flat into the ground this weekend, but tomorrow may have a few thinsg going on today and today's prioroty is ornimental grasses and the last of the tomatoes (6 Varieties). I still have to turn more dirt for the pickles if I want that to happen tomorrow.

                                        1. re: JanPrimus
                                          Rheta May 16, 2010 02:33 PM

                                          I'm envious of your garden and your six varieties of tomatoes. And you flat of pickle plants. I have too much shade for anything but impatiens. I do have a patch of almost full sun on one side of my house where I have a big barrel pot that I grow herbs, mostly basil in. How I would love all of those tomatoes and cukes!

                                          1. re: JanPrimus
                                            coney with everything May 17, 2010 04:58 AM

                                            Funny, Jan, I did the same thing you did and ended up buying a jar of the Bloody Mary mix, but it was too intense on its own. I'm going to dilute it with straight unsalted tomato juice (the mix is very salty, IMO). I do like the flavor though, but a whole glass of it (with Stoly!) was too much.

                                            1. re: coney with everything
                                              JanPrimus May 17, 2010 03:30 PM

                                              So I was doing my grocery shopping tonight and there they were....Toper's Golden Dills and the Nathan's New York Kosher Spears.

                                              The Topor's has a good crunch...I am sure the inconsistency is a issue of rotation and can not blame the company. I got what looked to be a fresh bottle. The taste is pretty damn good. It is not smacking me up side the head but it does have a great taste.

                                              The Nathan's (made by Don Herman's) was just as crispy but had a more pronounced Garlic flavor. Of the two I likes this one better. I would put this pickle into a solid second place for my taste. Like I said...I like to be beaten up by my flavors. So if your not like me...don't listen to me. :)

                                          2. re: Rheta
                                            momskitchen May 20, 2010 06:12 PM

                                            Do share....Topors are a fermented brined dill pickle, the McCklures are fresh packed...different styles, both good.

                                            1. re: momskitchen
                                              JanPrimus May 21, 2010 06:05 AM

                                              I can't share...I have eaten them all :)

                                              My wife even asked me the other day....whats up with all the pickles. In the last few weeks I have had 10 different pickle jars in the fridge. Down to just a few...the kids can have them.

                                              Although I am now saving the Spicy Pickle brines....

                                  2. re: coney with everything
                                    xman887 May 5, 2010 10:15 AM

                                    after lunch at bastone in royal oak, i stopped at holiday market just to find some mcclures pickles. i bought two jars, garlic and hot. nearly $17 for two jars. what the hell am i doing? i didn't have a chance to try them last night. but looking forward to it. holiday has the bloody mary mix, too. its about $6 for a jar slightly smaller than the pickles.

                                    1. re: xman887
                                      coney with everything May 5, 2010 12:12 PM

                                      Ooh, next time I'm at Holiday I SO am getting some Bloody Mary mix...

                                      1. re: xman887
                                        JanPrimus May 5, 2010 06:53 PM

                                        Well I was in the Lansing area this afternoon and picked up a jar of Mandingo's for $7.25

                                        The difference between the McClures and the Mandingo's jar wise....McMclure's looks to be about twice as big.

                                        I think if your a fan of food that likes to smack you like a red headed step child....McClures is your brand.

                                        If you like a well balanced and crispy pickle than Mandingo's is for you.

                                        I like to leave my table bruised and battered.

                                        1. re: JanPrimus
                                          xman887 May 6, 2010 09:04 AM

                                          tried both of them last night. the garlic was unexpectedly strong and more sour than i was expecting. completely different than the $3 jar of natahan's i have in the fridge. but i liked it. and i really liked the hot version even better. that is some serious spice, welcome and not overpowering.

                                    2. re: boagman
                                      boagman May 6, 2010 02:16 PM

                                      So, um, not to be blunt or anything, but does anyone local want to go in on a case or two of Ozark Pickle Pantry pickles with me? I'm probably going to end up getting some anyway, but just wanted to check. Let me know!

                                      1. re: boagman
                                        JanPrimus May 6, 2010 02:19 PM

                                        If I give you a $20 will you get me three bottles? All but the bread and butter.

                                        1. re: JanPrimus
                                          boagman May 6, 2010 03:10 PM

                                          You want one of each kind *except for* bread and butter, correct?

                                          1. re: boagman
                                            JanPrimus May 6, 2010 07:26 PM

                                            Correct....have them shipped to my Sherwood address...that or just give me a call.

                                      2. re: boagman
                                        yellowthumb May 9, 2010 05:58 AM

                                        The ozark pickles are more than McClure's!!! Ozark is 16oz...McClure's are 32oz --double the size!...plus what's in the ozark ones? -- I'm a fan of McClure's because of the quality of the product.

                                        I think you have to realize that when shopping at a store you are going to be purchasing a product that has been marked up and a lot of the money you've spent is not going back into the manufacturers pockets. I worked in retail grocery for years, and seeing some of the margins on goods that manufacturers make very little on is gross...then the manufacturer gets the brunt of feedback that their product is too expensive -- it's something a lot of consumers don't get or realize.

                                        You can easily make a less expensive pickle at home, but I think a small company has to worry about employees, insurance and a slew of other things that make their cost of goods higher than a larger company like Topor's or Vlasic. Volume drives down prices for consumers...Like WAL-MART...and increases the company's margins so they are making more in the end.

                                        Just my thoughts...

                                        1. re: yellowthumb
                                          boagman May 9, 2010 04:05 PM

                                          "The ozark pickles are more than McClure's!!! Ozark is 16oz...McClure's are 32oz --double the size!...plus what's in the ozark ones? -- I'm a fan of McClure's because of the quality of the product."

                                          Perhaps you didn't see where I said that I was going to be a little bit of a hypocrite above. Indeed, the Ozark Pickle Pantry jars are 16 oz., and if McClure's are 32 oz., then yes: I'd consider them to be more expensive than McClure's. Still, if you're about the quality of the product, and supporting the little guy, Ozark Pickle Pantry is right up your alley, too.

                                      3. r
                                        Ravenjon May 5, 2010 03:08 AM

                                        Don Herman's, available fresh and cold only in the Cleveland area, are one amazing pickle. No one makes anything like them. Cloudy, not clear, brine, attests to the craft-made quality. They almost have an effervescence, which gives these babies a delightful flavor. If you get near Cleveland, grab a few jars and savor them. As good as Topors, McClures, and others may be, Don Herman's are entirely different, and take the prize. GET SOME! http://www.hermannpicklecompany.com/

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Ravenjon
                                          gooddog May 5, 2010 06:51 PM

                                          I know I've seen these in the Detroit area - at Salvaggio's maybe? Next time I see them I'll give them a try.

                                          1. re: gooddog
                                            Fibber McGee May 10, 2010 04:08 AM

                                            I saw them this weekend at Hiller's. Specifically, the one on 14 and Haggerty.

                                            1. re: Fibber McGee
                                              Rheta May 15, 2010 10:38 AM

                                              I picked up some Herman's pickles yesterday when I was at Hillers. Will open the jar tomorrow. Wanted to today for lunch but there was one more Topor's left in the jar.

                                        2. w
                                          worldwarz May 6, 2010 03:56 AM

                                          Vivios at Eastern Market has some great pickles, I don't know if they are made in house or they just slap the Vivio lable on the jar. I love going down there for breakfast on Sat. before going shopping.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: worldwarz
                                            Rheta May 16, 2010 02:30 PM

                                            Had a Don Herman's with lunch today. Very good pickle, excellent crunch. I still think I like the flavor of the Topor's a little more. Need to do a side by side taste test.

                                          2. JanPrimus May 20, 2010 05:47 AM

                                            I found this today....

                                            Drink recipe using McClures Spicy brine.


                                            1. s
                                              Spot May 21, 2010 12:30 PM

                                              I grew up eating Bessinger's pickles from AuGres, MI, and still ask my mother to send me a few jars every year. Small, garlicky, and crunchy. Love 'em.

                                              1. b
                                                berkleybabe May 22, 2010 10:49 AM

                                                Jan, they are great..but enjoy them as samples, not buying (blush.) We had Bloody Marys made w/ the mix --WOWWWW ---face smacking intense, too much so for me -- too much picked juice/salt. I think cutting with another tomato juice might be the key. But I won't shell out th $$ for that. Our friend buys the spicy pickles then recycles the juice, which I think is a wise move.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: berkleybabe
                                                  JanPrimus May 22, 2010 01:50 PM

                                                  Yep..that is my plan. :)

                                                2. k
                                                  Ken H May 24, 2010 12:14 AM

                                                  My Local Pickle Thoughts:

                                                  I like Vlassic Bread & Butter Chips, but that's about it from them.

                                                  Tony Packo's Sweet Hots are great, either the Pickles & Peppers or Sweet Mix. At the Packo locations in Toledo, and Meijer, Kroger, Hiller, Busch, and others. When at Packo's, try the Chicken Paprikas.

                                                  Although all I've had from Safies is Pickled Beats, they were great. They also have a variety of pickles, peppers, asparagus, etc. Found them at Costco, of all places, also seen them in various grocery stores.

                                                  Milwaukee Midget Dills are great, I think at Kroger?

                                                  As for Bloody Marys, I prefer to make my own, but Zing Zang is a great substitute.

                                                  1. s
                                                    SonyBob Jun 13, 2010 04:43 PM

                                                    I know that this is an old thread but I was just having one of my favorite snacks ( cucumber chips between a couple of slices of cheese) when I realized that I hadn't mentioned Bell-View Hot & Sweet Cucumber Chips. They're probably available in many markets but the only place I've found them is at Mary's roadside market at the intersection of Ford and Beck in Canton Twp. They're basically bread and butter chips with more spice. They're not hot, really, just sweet with a little spicy kick. Chill 'em down and eat them right out of the jar. I love them!

                                                    Show Hidden Posts