I’ve long believed in the old marketing axiom that there’s no such thing as a bad idea, only bad execution. Even a relatively unimpressive or unappetizing product can become a must-buy depending on how well it’s presented to the public. For example, I don’t think anybody genuinely enjoyed Orbitz soda, but everybody alive in the late 1990s at least gave it a try and still remember it vividly to this day.
Walmart’s proprietary Tropickles, on the other hand, is the epitome of a badly executed novelty food. Instead of coming off as kooky and kitschy the product looks, smells, and tastes trashy and tawdry. Superficially and suprafacially, it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever put in my mouth; it’s so bad, the only word I can think to describe it is execrable.
Everything about this product is hideous. The packaging is ultra-generic and the sight of swampy vegetables floating up and down in pinkish-red fluid is stomach-churning. And as soon as you pry off the lid, things get really nauseating.
There’s nothing particularly offensive about fruit punch, even the low-tier, store brand stuff. There’s also nothing particularly offensive about canned pickles (unless, of course, you have a strong aversion to tart foods.)
Alas, when you force the two to co-habitate in the same glass jar, the chemical reaction is repugnant. The combination of lukewarm sugar water, wilting cucumbers and a ton of vinegar results in a scent comparable to rotten produce doused in Kool-Aid, this sickly sweet odor that keeps alternating between hummingbird nectar and a compost heap.
Then there are the visuals. There’s no genteel way to put it – the pickles look like bloody turds. Did any of you kids ever see that great B-horror movie from the 1980s called Slugs? Well, if you haven’t, the Tropickles are exactly what the monsters in that flick resembled. Come to think of it, maybe Walmart should’ve saved these things for Halloween and rebranded them as pickled snakes in elf blood or something – at least then they could’ve promoted it as intentionally disgusting.
As bad as the scent is and as bad as the pickles look, though, the taste is even worse. You get sporadic moments of watered-down sweetness and you get occasional bursts of traditional dill pickle flavor, but for the most part all your taste buds can detect is pure ick.
The fruit punch juice makes the pickles mushier and more acidic than normal, and the goulash of vinegar and sugar water taints them with a rubbery bitterness. Really, it doesn’t even taste like food after a couple of bites; if you want to simulate the flavor, aroma and even mouthfeel of Tropickles, find a menthol cigarette chain smoker and ask them to cram their tongue down your esophagus.
All in all, these Tropickles might be the worst thing I’ve ever eaten that wasn’t sold at Dollar Tree. Remember earlier when I said there’s no such thing as a “bad idea” when it comes to gimmick foods? Well, scratch that – “putting pickles in fruit punch” is about as bad as it gets.
(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 a spear – 25 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 260 mg of sodium, 6 grams of total carbs, 0 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: $1.78
Size: 24 oz. jar
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 1 out of 10
Pros: If you’re mugged in the parking lot, the jar makes a great impromptu bludgeoning weapon. The bottle is probably heavy enough to keep a small door open.
Cons: …literally everything else.