RIP to a pickle giant

Earlier this month, Robert Vlasic passed away at the age of 96.

Singdhi Sokpo

There’s a good chance that when you think of pickles, you think of a blue-and-green jar of Vlasic kosher dills.

Started by Croatian immigrant Joseph Vlasic, the Vlasic brand was handed down to his son, Robert, in 1963.

It was a smart growth play: By 1974, per capita US pickle consumption hit eight pounds, up 4x from the 1930s.

Under Robert’s leadership, Vlasic expanded to 96 kinds of pickles, peppers, relishes, and sauerkrauts. It eventually was taken over by Conagra Brands after going bankrupt as a spinoff from Campbell Soup.

The original meme king

“We decided we didn’t want to take ourselves or our business too seriously,” Vlasic told The New York Times in 1974.

In practice, according to Vlasic, that meant spending more on marketing than the rest of the pickle industry combined.

Over the years, Vlasic gathered pickle jokes — ones like, “Why did the pickle close its eyes? It saw the salad dressing” — which he eventually made into a book. “There’s nothing very serious about a pickle,” Vlasic once said.

Earlier this month, on May 8, Robert Vlasic passed away at the age of 96.

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