Pickles' appeal is timeless

Update Sept. 13: The festival was postponed due to rain and will now take place on Sunday, Oct. 14

Cronuts, acai bowls, cupcakes and poké are some of the food trends that have marked this decade’s pop culture — but each one’s popularity has been fleeting.

The time-tested popularity of pickles, on the other hand, won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Or at least, that’s what folks at local marketing firm Digital Force Agency are banking on.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, DFA will host the first annual Pickledelphia Pickle Festival, a daylong party dedicated to the crunchy fermented snacks.

Billed as Philly’s first-ever “large-scale” pickle festival, the event at Schmidt’s Commons (formerly known as the Piazza) in Northern Liberties will offer edible treats and collectible memorabilia from over 50 vendors. There will also be pickle parodies set to country music, pickle pajamas, pickle eating contests, pickle LOVE shirts and pickleback shots.

It’s already a hit. Even before any press writeups, 48,000 people have RSVP’d as either “going” or “interested” on the Facebook event page. The event organizers say that was only to be expected.

“Pickles are the hottest food in 2018, and it isn’t going to stop here,” DFA cofounder Kevin Baxter told Billy Penn. “Pickles are a lifestyle, and we’re going to pickle out everybody.”

In a spiel kind of like the monologue Bubba gives to Forrest on the marvels of shrimp, Baxter effused over the versatility of pickles. At Pickledelphia, he said, attendees will get to sample creations such as:

“We’ve gone to pickle festivals in Pittsburgh, in Boston and New York. We know what the pickle lovers want in a festival, and what they don’t. Pickledelphia is going to be the Disney World of Pickles for Philly fans,” Baxter promised.

This isn’t DFA’s first foray into on-brand niche experiences. In April 2018 and 2017, the firm produced the Philadelphia Beard Festival, also at the Piazza. The positive reception of the event led to expansion to Baltimore, where they’ll host a Beard & Whiskey Festival in November.

Since DFA launched Pickledelphia on May 17, promotions have reached 2.8 million people, per Baxter, 67 percent of whom were women.

As a result, Baxter explained, there will be “Pickle Chick” merchandise (not entirely sure what that means, but probably leggings?), a “pickle” wall for Instaworthy photos (similar to a rose wall or FedNuts donut wall) and parents can bring kids aged 10 or older.

Part of making sure the festival is family-friendly and safe — while also having plenty of booze — was capping ticket sales at 3,000, a decision that Baxter says is “for the best” even though it was a tough one to make.

According to Baxter, if all goes well, the next step in capitalizing on picklephoria in PHL will be rolling out pickle merch all year long, such as pickle jammies for Christmas.

About 1,000 tickets still remain for Pickledelphia, which can be purchased online. General admission is $10, and VIP is $25, including early entry, an “I Love Pickles” bracelet, free samples from pickle vendors, a bag of pickle-flavored chips and a free keepsake picture at the pickle display.