The Happy Pickle

Here’s another one of my articles from this issue of Edible Sarasota.  Photo by Angela Jenkins.




“I sing all the time and I love to sing at my stand.  My friend called me ‘one happy pickle’ and the name just stuck,” says Mark Webster of his somewhat namesake company, The Happy Pickle, best known for gourmet pickles and olives that have customers lining up at Florida farmer’s markets, including our own Phillippi Farmhouse Market, in anticipation of just one crunchy, tangy, juicy bite.

“Man it’s rewarding,” says Webster of his company, where half sours and kosher dills keep him  happy to be caught in a pickle.   There’s a good chance you know Mark, or his products, as his popularity is gaining at every weekly market.  “Once we get under that tent, we start putting on a show,” exclaims Mark, joyously explaining the process behind selling his goods.  But the enthusiasm you see under that tent stems back to when the process truly began for Mark.  “I got into the pickle business in 2008 after many things went wrong in my life.  I needed a change, so I started selling these pickles.  I didn’t realize I was a salesman, but it turns out I’m generous and authentic and people seem to like that.”

People seem to like a lot of things about The Happy Pickle.  Sure Mark’s effervescence is a crowd pleaser, but his famously fresh and bold products, keep them coming back for more.  Kosher dills, half sours, full New York sours, sweet & hots, horseradish and spicy kosher dills are always on the menu alongside sour green tomatoes and a plethora of feta, blue cheese and garlic stuffed gourmet olives, among others.  Lucky for us, Florida is one of the few states that can grow cucumbers all year round, making it easy for Mark to keep an ongoing relationship with the farmers and clientele alike.

Now, before you go thinking that selling pickles is an easy task, keep in mind that each pail weighs fifty pounds, probably more than Peter Piper ever carried.  Plus, cleaning and refrigeration can be massive undertakings.  But it’s all worth it for Mark who has turned The Happy Pickle into a family affair.  “My kids, Derek and Daniel, are outstanding.  I can’t say enough about their help,” boasts a proud father of his sons.  Even his own father had a profound effect on Mark’s etiquette, both in business and in life.  “My dad was a doctor, and I’ve lived on both sides of the coin.  So, I treat everybody the same.  I try to be honest and never hustle.  It’s not about that.  It’s about selling a great product,” says Mark earnestly.  It doesn’t hurt that The Happy Pickle sells the best half sours on earth.

Go pick up your peck of pickled peppers every Wednesday at the Phillippi Farmhouse Market.  Be warned though, one bite and you may be coming back for a kenning or a bushel, but that’s edible algebra for another article altogether.