Hot Tamales and Koolickles


As far as Koolaid pickles are concerned:

The origin story is a mystery. This is a predominantly regional food although my cousin has told me she saw them at the Dallas Farmer’s Market.

Those that like them, love them. The fourth graders I spoke to lit up and jumped up and down when their principal asked them who liked them. Years ago, Clarksdale Police Detective Charles Sledge sells them in the town and came to Oxford to give a demonstration to a group of food journalists at OleMiss. He thinks it’s mostly a women’s and children’s product, but makes them because they sell.-It’s his side project or hobby.

In 2014, at a book signing by State Senator David Jordan, related to me, he only knew of peppermint pickles. He recalled a time when he was sweet on a girl and as kids they would purchase the two necessary ingredients and eat peppermint pickles together.

One variation or cheat is to use Jello instead of the drink mixture. Streater Farms, whom I met at the Greenwood Farmers Market, insisted that she wouldn’t have pickles for a week or more when I was there in person. She told me that Mount Olive Pickles were the key ingredient- the same as Detective Sledge. A few weeks after I left the Delta and was in Texas her “Christmas Pickles” were on display as a draw on the last market of the season on Facebook. Her pickles were flavored with red hots and didn’t get that blood red color that Detective Sledge creates.

Friend and James Beard Award winning author, Adrian Miller told his audience at a group demonstration on soul food that red is a flavor as he made hibiscus tea. He has a chapter on Red drinks and calls it “Liquid Soul!” in many ways, this does have some roots or relations to that African tradition of “red”. Delta Center for Culture and Learning’s Lee Aylward says that the center serves up a number of regional foods including hot tamales and koolaid pickles for their education programs over the summer. While she makes them, just like Detective Sledge, she does not eat them.

The first time this delicacy gained some notoriety was in 2007, when Southern Foodways Alliance’s John T. Edge wrote about it in the New York Times. The treat is so popular that regional gas and convenience store chain, Double Quick has looked to trademark the name. This curiosity packs a punch with the texture and some tartness of a pickle and the super sweetness of koolaid drink.

Episode went Live Feb 25 2022

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Julia Cruz

Had a pleasure of speaking with this vagabond of sorts.