One of the most heartrending tales ever told on Burnt My Fingers is the saga of Guss’ Pickles. I hope you’ll go and read it in its entirety, including especially the comments. But in a nutshell he said, she said, until one entity ended up owning the rights to the name Guss’ Pickles and the other the shop where they were originally produced. (Which she then relocated to Brooklyn… like I said, the saga goes on and on, with occasional sparks of new conflict that flare up like embers in a dying fire.)
I have had it on my bucket list to make it to the Cedarhurst neighborhood of the Bronx and meet with the Liebowitz family which currently owns the name, but that turns out out not to be necessary. As Adam, who surely is Guss’/Liebowitz’s biggest fan, points out, unlike the competitor’s pickles Guss’ are widely sold including at Whole Foods. And this week they showed up in upstate New York, at my local Price Chopper. Which is why it was, harboring nothing but good will and curiosity, that I brought home a jar of Guss’ New York Refrigerated Fresh Deli-Dill Pickles.
And guess what. They contain vinegar. And while they’re superior to a jarred brand in the relish aisle, they have a lot more in common with mass-produced brands than anything ever cured on the Lower East Side.
The back of the impossible to read label (because it’s printed in a dark color over a clear background) informs us that these pickles are made under license by United Pickle Packers of Demarest, NJ. Maybe the Liebowitz family was convinced they had to Vlasic-ize their pickles to reach a mass market. (Which can’t be true: Bubbies and Ba-Tampte are two examples made with nothing but a salt cure, and they’re widely available at high end markets.) But there can’t be any doubt that Izzy Guss is twirling in his grave like a lamb on a rotisserie.
For me, this is solved. Patricia Fairhurst may have a waspy name, but she’s selling the authentic full sour. Next time I am in Brooklyn I will need to make the pilgrimage to Clinton Hill and ceremonially dip a pickle in honor of Izzy and his heritage which, in a circuitous way, is preserved after all.