A thanks to the school Pickling Club


Illustration by Sydney Fener

Cucumbers sit inside of a jar, which is one step of the fermentation process. Cucumbers are one of many items that the Pickling Club ferments,

James Hess, Assistant Opinion Editor

If you ever make a habit of wandering through the highest parts of the upper school campus, first around the library and then up the stairs to Feldman-Horn, you may encounter a peculiar sight. Peer into a window of Feldman-Horn 106 on late start days, and you will find dozens of students eagerly crowded around two painting tables. Various pickle and pickle-based products sit atop the table, along with other store-bought snacks—everything from store-bought potato chips to homemade fermented recipes and refrigerated samples.

Pickling and Fermentation Club members spend their late start lunch periods sampling, preparing and discussing the merits of pickled foods, and they do so unlike any other club on campus. The club’s Instagram posts creatively advertise its meetings, asking trivia questions like “When does a grape become a pickle?” to their followers. Emails promise that meetings will “appease the essiggurken und nicht-essiggurken in our ranks” and that they offer a “delectable selection of pickle and non-pickle snacks, whatever supports your path to enlightenment.”

 Such a niche subject seems unlikely to attract more than a few devoted followers, and yet the club’s popularity rivals even the most well-known clubs at the Upper School—scheduled meetings consistently have loyal participants, and the club’s email list contains hundreds of student names from all grades. 

In a community made up of students who participate in activities that are often competitive in nature, the Picklers’ self-referential humor and innate sense of absurdity refresh students burdened by the daily tedium of classes. The club is made more exceptional by the observation that meetings contain no hidden agendas or leadership hierarchies—it is clear that members join purely to share their common interests and for the sake of enjoyment itself. 

 The Picklers can therefore teach us a lesson about the importance of levity and sincerity in an otherwise competitive community. We can all follow the Pickling Club’s lead by not taking ourselves too seriously and recognizing the humor in everything. It would also serve us best to draw inspiration from our organic interests—even if they are seemingly silly or insignificant—and create communities around them to share in our curiosity. We may not be pickle disciples ourselves, but the frenzy of pickling students in Feldman-Horn can nevertheless encourage us to be better students in the classes, activities and communities we do participate in.