We've all been there. You've left an item in one place for so long that you completely forget that it is there. You might walk by it one hundred times, and then when you really need it, it may as well not exist. It's like walking around, wearing your glasses, and not knowing "where I left them."
So how long had I been driving by a jar of pickles, precariously perched on a concrete median, directly across from West County Center? I think I first saw them around 2012., and it was a perplexing sight. I use that highway exit multiple times a week. How had I somehow missed them previously? How do you lose a full-size jar of pickles? Who found them and put them there?
And they have remained there, seemingly without lapse, ever since. I'm not the only one to notice this. Jamie Allman, of 97.1 FM, posted a photo of the pickles back in March of 2017 on Twitter. They had shown up again on the St. Louis subreddit this week. It was there that I learned about a Facebook Group, Team Pickle, and it's founder, Barb Steen, Talent Acquisition Manager with Slalom (Clayton, MO.) I reached out to Barb to learn more about these seemingly mysterious gherkins. (Author's Note, the interview has been edited for clarification and formatting only.)
Do you recall when you first saw the pickle jar at Manchester and Hwy. 270? What was your initial reaction?
2011 or 2012. Initial reaction, "who would leave a jar of pickles on a divider," followed by quickly getting a picture to show to my friends.
Did you start the Facebook group regarding this oddity? What was caused you to create the group?
Yes, I created the Team Pickle page in December 2014. I had been positing about the pickles on my own social media accounts for a couple years prior, doing that I realized these pickles were a mild obsession to many, so that’s how Team Pickle got its start.
What are the running theories about the origin of the pickle jars?
Two theories that I have heard, that stuck…. a show of support for autism and an In Memory Of someone who’s passed.
Do any of these theories ring true to you?
I have spent plenty of hours researching what these pickles mean and I’ve got nothing.
Do you have any theories of your own?
I have two…. the first, a hidden message in a forbidden friendship, a way to let the other one know they are thinking of them (that’s the hopeless romantic in me), the other, some dude left some pickles on the side of the road in 2011, they sat there entirely too long, it became a thing, went viral and now we’re all out there replacing them whenever needed to keep up the pickle hype – which is awesome.
What’s more important: knowing the origin of the pickle jars, or that they continue to be placed at that intersection?
I’m a split on that one. I’d love to know the who, what, why, when – but I’d also love for the pickles to continue to be a thing and puzzle people for years to come.
The story has not only been covered by local news, but has even been covered by Vice. And yet, with all of this local coverage, we are no closer to solving the mystery of the Manchester and Hwy. 270 Pickles. Who do you think is responsible? Why would someone leave a perfectly good jar of pickles near a highway off ramp?
(Photo courtesy of Barb Steen and Team Pickle on Facebook)