By Kristen Altus / Correspondent
An affinity for a “pickleback” led two father-son duos to create a niche company that sells pouches of pickle brine.
Sometimes, all it takes is a little dinner conversation to spark a new idea.
That’s what happened with University of Florida students Benjamin Churba, 21, and Matt Field, 21, as they enjoyed a meal with their fathers late October 2017 in Gainesville.
The father-son duos were discussing how they enjoy picklebacks, a shot of whiskey chased by pickle juice. But in order to enjoy the drink, they were buying jars of pickles just for the brine, ultimately wasting the pickles themselves.
“We made a connection between accessing pickle brine and the great idea we’ve had this entire time,” said Churba, a food and resource economics major. “We said, ‘We should just package this stuff.’”
“Then [Field’s dad] Marc looked at me and said, ‘We can do that, I know people who can get this done,’” said Jay Churba, Benjamin’s father, “and we agreed to do this together.”
Before they knew it, Jay Churba, a real estate agent, and Marc Field, an entrepreneur, were headed to Pickle Day 2017 in New York City, the world’s largest pickle festival, where they found a company to help them get started.
Now just one year later, they’re introducing Get Pikl’ed to Gainesville, selling single-serving pouches of dill pickle brine, made in the Bronx with authentic Bronx water.
The recipe is kosher, fat-free and non-GMO, and each pouch sells for $2.
According to the younger Field and Churba, the brine pairs best with Jameson whiskey, but it can be used to chase any brand of whiskey or vodka.
They also recommend Get Pikl’ed to athletes and exercise enthusiasts, calling the brine an alternative hydration solution for pre- or post-workouts and a reliever for cramping muscles.
While it’s a debated topic whether or not pickle juice has any health benefits, one 2010 study found that it can reduce the duration of cramps.
Blain Harrison, a certified athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach, is a lecturer in sports nutrition for UF’s College of Health and Human Performance.
Harrison said that the acetic acid in the brine likely triggers a neuromuscular reflex that causes motor signals from the central nervous system to be “quieted down.”
“We don’t really have a good scientific rationale for why we cramp,” Harrison said. “If an individual athlete has a history of cramping and they want to use pickle juice as a way to reduce the length of a cramp, it’s probably worth trying.”
Harrison said while he doesn’t recommend his athletes drink pickle juice, it’s safe and won’t harm you.
According to Jay Churba, he’s received positive feedback from a diabetic and a marathon runner, who both believed they had reduced cramping after drinking the brine.
Currently, customers can only buy the product on Get Pikl’ed’s website or directly through Benjamin Churba or Matt Field.
“We’re going for a word-of-mouth marketing strategy where it gains popularity by people talking about it,” Benjamin Churba said.
The pickle sellers hope to begin selling the product on Amazon soon, but for now they’re visiting local bars and convincing them to stock Get Pikl’ed.
“Gainesville is a fantastic sample size for major cities,” Jay Churba said. “It’s young, it’s growing, it’s a millennial population because of the student body.”