The Internet can lead you down weirdly wonderful paths, such as when your search terms include "pickle juice" and "snow cone."
Melissa Yen, owner of Jo Snow Syrups, was working on a new snow cone menu several weeks back and had heard such a thing existed, so down the virtual rabbit hole she went.
What she turned up was that in Texas, this sort-of-gross-sounding snow cone has a name—the Piccadilly—and the added appeal of chopped pickles.
She could've stopped right there. She already had a good source of locally made pickles and their juice in Carol Watson, owner of Milk & Honey Cafe. The women work out of the same commercial kitchen space. But then Yen saw a Chicago Tribune article about a South Side curiosity that's nothing more than a peppermint stick jammed into a pickle, and her version of a Piccadilly snow cone crystallized.
Yen introduced her salty-sweet-spicy creation ($4)—shaved ice layered with chopped pickles, pickle juice, cherry syrup, and the optional (and recommended) topping of crushed peppermints—Sunday at the Logan Square Farmers Market, where she is a regular vendor.
The verdict, according to customers, seemed mostly in the Piccadilly's favor.
"Very refreshing," said Lorell Marin, who was with her husband and two daughters. "The combination of the two is surprising because you have, like, two different flavors going on in your mouth and you wouldn’t think it tastes as good as it does. It doesn't look as good, but it tastes delicious."
Marin's older girl, Cailyn Caballero, 7, also tried it. "I like it," she said, not quite convincingly.
"There's peppermint in it? No fair!" her six-year-old sister Gracie wailed. Still, she refused a bite. "I just want a cup of mints. That's all I want," she said.
My take? Like Marin, I was pleasantly surprised by the balance of sweet and sour. And while the Internet might prove me wrong, I doubt there’s a more texturally satisfying icy treat than this one.
The Jo Snow Piccadilly snow cone is available all summer at the Logan Square Farmers Market, which runs Sundays.