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How did Bread & Butter pickles get their name?

caliloo
11 years ago

The Little Gourmand has decided he likes them and asked me why they were called Bread & Butter pickles. Can anyone help with an answer to that?

Thanks

Alexa

Comments (39)

  • TobyT
    11 years ago

    I can't but I am shaking my head in disbelief, as my daughter asked the very same question last night! What are the odds?
    Jane

  • sushipup1
    11 years ago

    According to some sources, they were used as a common sandwich filling served with bread and butter during the Depression. I take it that bread and butter were cheap and available at that time.

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  • Jinean
    11 years ago

    Bread and butter pickles are just a recipe for a sweet sour pickle. They got the name "bread and butter" during the great depression when fresh cucumbers were eaten for lunch with bread and butter, and a cheap source of what was considered a vegetable back in the day. Moms could grow the cukes, serve them fresh as long as they lasted without refrigeration, but then had to pickle them to make them last all the rest of the year. In the summer cucumber sandwiches were very popular, thin slices of cukes on bread with butter- very English. But what then to do with the leftover garden produce?? Pickle it!

    While folks back then served what they could grow- and cucumbers were easy to grow in many climates- still the produce outstripped the consumption. Backyard gardens often produced more cucumbers than any family could eat in one season. So they picked and pickled them- adapting and using old recipes that would appeal to their children's pallets, (always a huge concern). While we know now that cooking destroys many of the vitamins in any food product- back then they did not know that. So they used the bread and butter pickle as a substitute for fresh cucumber sandwiches. Which they seriously thought were nutritious.

  • lindac
    11 years ago

    I agree with sushi.....but think the term originated earlier than the depression.

  • hawk307
    11 years ago

    Never saw anyone eating Cucumbers and Bread.

    I did see some eating Onions and Bread.

    In the City everyone had a garden during the depression and during WW2.

    Every patch of dirt had some sort of vegetable growing.

    LOU

  • caliloo
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Thanks so much for the information. Of course I have had cucumber sandwiches and probably made dozens of them over the years, but it never occurred to me that Bread & Butter pickles would be used in the same manner.

    Thank you again.

    Alexa

  • triciae
    11 years ago

    Lou,

    Bread, butter, & cucumber sandwiches are a hold over from our country's English heritage. They are still served all over the country as "tea sandwiches". White Flower Farms in Litchfield, Connecticut is famous for their annual spring sale featuring bread, butter, & cucumber sandwiches while people stroll the gardens.

    /tricia

  • grainlady_ks
    11 years ago

    We had elderly neighbors who always called cucumbers "pickles" whether they were pickled or not, so I would tend to go with the Depression Era origin for the name. But another thought, sweet pickles (aka bread and butter pickles) were always served on the table with a plate of sliced bread and butter. Those three things were always placed on the table no matter what else was being served. A fermented food was almost always served with a meal (sweet pickles, dill pickles, pickled beets, even sweet & sour sliced cucumbers in vinegar/sugar...).

    We lived on raw cucumber sandwiches (bread/butter/cucumber slices and salt and pepper) for lunch, as well as tomato sandwiches (not BLT, just bread/butter/sliced tomatoes/salt and pepper) all summer long, growing up in Kansas. Bread was homemade, and 8-10-cents per loaf if bought from the store.

    I always thought the cucumber sandwich was an English influence because my mother was from Canada and I don't remember other families in our neighborhood ever eating cucumber sandwiches like we did.

    -Grainlady

  • Lars
    11 years ago

    I do not think that cucumber sandwiches are served all over the country - but mainly in the parts where Anglos and the English settled. I've never seen them in Texas or the Southwest or Louisiana. I haven't seen them on the West Coast either, and so I think they are mainly an East Coast-Midwest-Southern type of dish.

    If you go to a tea garden in California, it will be either Japanese or Chinese - not English! The tea garden in San Antonio was also originally Japanese. Historically, Germans and Italians have outnumbered the English in the number of immigrants who came here. After a certain time, the English started going to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and there weren't enough left to make that much of an influence here, except on the East Coast.

    Lars

  • hawk307
    11 years ago

    I always have Bread and Butter Pickles on hand but never made a sandwich with just the Pickles .

    I have used them in a Sandwich and Hoagies but always with Lunchmeat and Cheese.

    But there is something wrong with me ???

    Lou

  • triciae
    11 years ago

    Lars,

    I was born & raised in California. I ate cucumber sandwiches frequently growing up.

    /tricia

  • Lars
    11 years ago

    Tricia,

    I would assume that your mother made the cucumber sandwiches - I was referring to never having seen them on a menu. They may very well be common here, and I just never have happened to see them. I was always intrigued by them whenever I would hear about them while watching an English movie - I think they are mentioned in The Importance of Being Ernest, but I had always thought that cucumber or watercress sandwiches were something of a joke and not something that anyone actually ate! I used to grow watercress in my pond in Venice, but I never made sandwiches out of it, although I added it to sandwiches, as I did with arugula.

    Lars

  • lindac
    11 years ago

    Never saw cucumber sandwiches on a menu.....but often on a sandwich tray or on a plate with a salad.
    If you grew up in an Italian neighborhood in south Philly, likely you didn't ever see cucumber sandwiches...onion sandwiches were likely the thing. I remember an elderly neighbor when I was about 12 eating garlic sandwiches.

    I just looked in a couple of old cookbooks....and in the Boston cookbook 1942 edition, there was a recipe for bread and butter pickles....but in another edition dated 1914 there wasn't such a recipe.
    I think it unlikely that bread and butter pickles were a depression thing... and made it into a cook book that quickly.

  • ann_t
    11 years ago

    Cucumber Sandwiches are very British. You will find them on the menu in restaurants or Tea Rooms serving Afternoon Tea.

    Ann

  • ruthanna_gw
    11 years ago

    I don't know the origins of the pickle name but cucumber sandwiches are alive and well in American tearooms. The topmost one is cucumber with watercress butter.

    I've never made them with bread and butter pickles but have made cucumber sandwiches at home too.

  • bbstx
    11 years ago

    Interesting discussion. And a question that DH asked me just last week,too. (cue the Twilight Zone music!)

  • lowspark
    11 years ago

    Posted by publickman (My Page) on Wed, Dec 21, 11 at 20:56
    I think they are mentioned in The Importance of Being Ernest,

    Yes they are! And that movie is what I always think of when I hear of cucumber sandwiches. He was hungry and ate them all up even though they were meant for his Aunt who was coming to visit. Then he made up some story (I can't remember) about why there weren't any cucumber sandwiches for her, but she saw right through his lies. I don't remember the exact dialog but I do remember it being pretty entertaining.

  • colleenoz
    11 years ago

    In an old Raggedy Ann book I have, RA and Andy encounter some pirate girls who have stolen Babette the French doll. The pirate girls at one point lay siege to RA and A, and taunt them by setting up a picnic outside and remarking loudly on the treats they are enjoying. "We have bread and butter and dill pickles!" they skite. As a child I thought it odd, but perhaps it was a treat back when the book was written.

  • rja1945
    9 years ago

    I think they are right about naming Bread and Butter Pickles prior to WWII. I think probably during the depression which was directly prior to the war. Lots of gardens grown then also.

    Without knowing any of this when I was young I like to make a sandwich of mayo, chedder cheese, and Bread and Butter Pickles.

  • ritaweeda
    9 years ago

    I've eaten many cucumber sandwiches, also tomato sandwiches. Even lettuce sandwiches. Growing up, anything in the kitchen went on a sandwich for lunch, including leftover potatoes (sliced with mayo and mustard, salt and pepper, sort of tastes like potato salad) and even leftover pork and bean sandwiches.

  • kitchendetective
    9 years ago

    DH grew up in Southern California, as did his parents, and grandparents. Bread and butter pickles were served before meals with bread and butter. When I lived in France, my cousins (deportation camp survivors originally from Germany) served bread and butter pickles, pickled beets, and other pickled vegetables with different kinds of French breads and butter as an appetizer before meals. Some restaurants did that, too, although I cannot recall ever hearing how they were named.

  • momj47
    9 years ago

    My favorite pickle. I eat them with sandwiches all the time, or just eat a couple of slices of pickle. I like the sharp contrast of a bread and butter pickle with whatever else I'm eating. It's like sauerkraut or cranberry sauce with Thanksgiving dinner.

    I've read some books by Anne Perry recently, set during the Victorian reign, and "pickle" was always on the table. Most working people bought their meals from carts on the street - a piece of cheese, some bread, and "pickle"; or a meat sandwich or meat pie with "pickle". And then there is pickled eel??

    A lot of foods were pickled, to preserve them. Pickles go back a long way.

  • colleenoz
    9 years ago

    The "pickle" in Victorian times was generally pickled onions, or a piccalilli type pickle.

  • bragu_DSM 5
    9 years ago

    Bread and butter was a staple at meals, kind of food extenders, to make the small amounts go further, add pickles to the mix, bread and butter and pickles. That's what my grandma always said, also because they were so easy to make, like bread, and butter. And yes, we had them with bread and butter when the pickles were freshly made, and the bottle opened warm, between two slices of bread and butter. nothing quite like them. Something, like bread and butter, to always have on hand.

  • Islay_Corbel
    9 years ago

    I think that the pickles as we know them originate from India. I make piccalilli - so simple and so much better home-made.

    Was brought up on cuke sarnies as a child in England. Always had to eat the savoury before the sweet at tea-time! What a lost culture. So few people enjoy tea any more - it's now really just tea-shops and very expensive high end hotels that do tea any more although I'm told that garden centres do a good tea these days!

  • Lynda Staton
    7 years ago

    Many I'm my family butntery

  • goeppeler
    6 years ago

    They were named by Cara and Omar Fannings anscestors and they got the official patent for the name in 1924

  • davidbjimerson
    5 years ago

    The story attached to the nameis that the Fannings survived rough years by making the pickles with their surplus of undersized cucumbers and bartering them with their grocer for staples such as bread and butter.

    Pickled cucumber - Wikipedia

  • lindac92
    5 years ago

    Note that Wiki also says that likely the recipe is much older.....and the only thing Wiki knows is what people tell it....not always correct information.
    If the story is true about the Fannings originating the name, It sure did spread fast without national advertising nor TV nor...facebook>
    From 1924 being patented by a family in Streator Illinois to being published as a recipe in a cookbook published in Boston Massachusettes in 18 years, seems improbable.
    I don't doubt they patented a recipe by that name, but I contend "Bread and butter pickles" was part of the vernacular describing a simple sliced sweet pickle, long before the Fannings got a patent.





























































































































































































































































































































































  • manginibarbara
    4 years ago

    Like bread and butter letters, bread and butter pickles were given as gifts to express thanks for hospitality. A lady would deliver a jar of these homemade pickles to her hostess, along with or in lieu of a formal "bread and butter" thank you letter.

  • John Stewart
    4 years ago

    It was always my understanding that Bread & Butter pickles got their name from folks in the 1920's who used their so called Sweet & Sour pickles to barter for staples like bread and butter, so they were eventually called Bread & Butter pickles.

  • sheilajoyce_gw
    4 years ago

    I grew up in central Illinois in the '40s loving bread and butter pickles on hamburgers.

  • Lars
    4 years ago

    I only bought bread and butter pickles once - by mistake - and I threw them out because they were way too sweet for me. I do not like any sweet cucumber pickles, and now I make my own, although I admit that Clauson dill pickles are better than mine. I've been making fermented pickles, but I haven't gotten the spices/herbs right yet. I certainly never add sugar or anything sweet to them. I'm pretty good at making kimchi by now, however.

  • Olychick
    4 years ago

    I don't know how they got their name, but this thread made me impulse buy a jar of Bubbies B&B pickles. I always buy their dills (better than any other I've found) and the B&B's are really good, too. They really wanted to go with a tuna sandwich, but I had some leftover King Salmon in the refer and just settled for that in a sandwich to go with, lol.

  • plllog
    4 years ago

    The evidence presented at the link Grainlady provided many years ago is convincing. To wit: "Bread and Butter" is a name given to the pickles by Mrs. Fanning's Pickles, when applying for a trademark. The story, true or not, given by the pickle company is that Mrs. Fanning made them from the cucumbers too small to sell and traded them to the grocer for bread and butter. This sounds potentially apocryphal, though the evidence is clear that the Fannings were the first to sell them, and that they were different from other sweet pickles; also that the recipe had been in the Fanning family for a couple of generations, so while they may have been unusual, they were probably not unique. The contemporary descriptions call them "sweet and sour".

    Something we'll never find evidence for is the likelihood that "sweet and sour" wasn't trademarkable for pickles, being just a descriptor in common use, so "bread and butter" having a similar assonance, and rhythm (even though different syllables), was put down on the form instead. If so, it would be clever, because bread and butter are a basic part of any old shopping list, so bread and butter pickles implies you should have pickles in your shopping basket as a matter of course. I can definitely see the marketing value of the name.

    I don't like sweet and sour pickles! Never have! I once accidentally bought a jar of Bubbie's and opened them before realizing. I call them "sugar pickles". They're not sour, just sweet. I like them as an alternative to a cookie. They go extremely well with chestnuts. :)

  • lisaam
    4 years ago

    Really, pickles and chestnuts--that is very intetesting! Roasted chestnuts and sliced b&b pickles? Anything else on the table?

  • albert_135   39.17°N 119.76°W 4695ft.
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    At wordorigins, an etymology site, a professior says he can not come up with anything earlier than Wikipedia's "The origin of the name and the spread of their popularity in the United States is attributed to Omar and Cora Fanning, a pair of Illinois cucumber farmers who started selling sweet and sour pickles in the 1920s and filed for the trademark "Fanning's Bread and Butter Pickles" in r1923 (though the recipe and similar ones are probably much older).[14] "


    ✔ ✔

  • plllog
    4 years ago

    Lisa, yes, roasted. Actually, the roasted and peeled chestnuts from Trader Joe's. With Bubbie's pickle chips. I don't know about other brands, because the exact flavor is probably important. Bubbie's are sugary tasting and otherwise mild. There's vinegar, but no acidic or even briny flavor, stands out, just a general mild pickle flavor and sweetness. It was an accidental then repeated combination from a collation, so, yes, other things on the table, but half a chestnut on a Bubbie's b&b pickle chip is its own little mismatched-texture canape of happiness. And a nice contrast to bread, cheese, peppers, etc.

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