(NEXSTAR) — While for many Americans, a trip to the movie theater may conjure images of overflowing popcorn buckets, for many a Texan, the idea may kickstart their salivary glands thinking of a juicy pickle.
While it may come as a surprise to Texans that pickles and popcorn isn’t as natural a combination for people who don’t live in the Lone Star State (though theaters in neighboring states may also sell pickles), the reverse is true for many who aren’t from the 28th state.
“Apparently, Texans have pickles for movie theater snacks. This is so bizarre to me,” tweeted one user. Meanwhile, one Texas-to-Florida resident wrote in 2018, “Today I learned that it’s only a Texas thing to sell pickles at the movie theater and I can’t decide if Texans are genius or just weird.”
But the practice has been normal for as long as many Texans can remember.
As the Dallas Morning News reports, pickles in theaters goes back to at least 1954, when a local theater made headlines for refusing to jump on the “new trend” at the concession stand. The Texas State Historical Association attributes it to the major Germanic presence in the state, with the association explaining that they comprise the largest European ethnic group — including up to 5% of the state’s population back to the 1850s.
Dallas Morning News writer Nataly Keomoungkhoun found a 1957 editorial from the outlet itself tying movie theater pickle-eating back to Germany. According to writer Sam Acheson, audiences in Germany “found that large hunks of bread, knackwurst, pickles, mustard and other tidbits brought back into the theater are often of great help in enduring, say, the last act of a [German composer Richard Wagner] opera.”
German influence in Texas cuisine can also be seen in sausages, sauerkrauts, beers and kolaches and much more, but could pickles and popcorn be Germany’s unintentional Texas calling card?
Although many major theater chains in Texas may offer “pouched pickles” — pickles sold in plastic bags — the offering differs by location and the same chain may not offer them in out-of-state locations.
Despite the increasing prevalence of non-traditional movie snacks (many chains now offer ice cream and full meals), pickles in theaters don’t seem to be catching on widely anytime soon.
“I have lived in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. I have never seen pickles in a movie theater,” one Redditor replied in a “Does your state sell pickles at the movie theater?” thread. Another user joked: “I think a fight might break out if someone started chowing down on pickles in a NJ movie theater.”