From Modest Roots to the Top Pickle Company
Mt. Olive Pickle Company, Inc., located at the Corner of Cucumber & Vine in Mount Olive, North Carolina, was originally founded for the purpose of brining cucumbers to be sold to other pickling firms.
When this initial plan didn’t exactly work out, the young company found itself in sort of a, well, you know, pickle.
Fortunately, resourcefulness prevailed, a new plan was prepared, and the company quickly began processing and packing pickles itself, formulating their own recipes and methods of production.
From a modest beginning in 1926, with only a 3,600 square foot building and $19,500 in capital, Mt. Olive has quickly grown to be one of the most loved pickle companies, manufacturing a best-selling brand of pickles, peppers and relishes in the U.S for their millions of customers.
Making the Best Pickles: A Community Proposition
It all started in the mid-1920s with Shikrey Baddour, a Lebanese immigrant from nearby Goldsboro, who saw opportunity in the wasted cucumber crops of area farmers. Baddour came up with the idea of buying the cucumbers, putting them in a brining tank and selling the salt brined cucumbers, or brine stock, to other pickle firms. Baddour enlisted the aid of George Moore, a sailor from Wilmington who had worked in a Castle Hayne pickle plant. The plan didn’t work the way they had envisioned, however: they had no buyers for their product.
By January 1926, a new plan was put into place through the efforts of a group of local business people who formally established the Mt. Olive Pickle Company, Inc. to pack and sell its own pickles. Thirty-seven original shareholders put forward the capital to get the company started in what all viewed as a “community proposition.” The first board of directors was led by H.M. Cox Sr., president, I.F. Witherington, vice president, and C.W. Oliver, secretary-treasurer. The board hired Moore as factory superintendent and Baddour as salesman, and it purchased one acre of land from farmer J.A. Westbrook for $1,000. The land is part of the current manufacturing site today. Westbrook’s home still stands across from the plant.
Early records indicate that all production in that first year was done by hand: the cucumbers were taken from the vats to nearby tables, where old coffee pots were used to pour syrup into jars.
A Pickle Company Ahead of Its Time
Over the years, Mt. Olive earned a reputation as being one of the pickle companies ahead of its time. In 1943, the company instituted a profit-sharing plan for its employees, making it one of the first 200 companies in the country to do so. (It didn’t break the $1 million sales mark until 1947.)
Later, in 1959, it put into place an Employee Community Fund. The program started with about $1,000. Over the years, the fund, governed by a committee of employees, has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to community organizations. Today, participating employees contribute 30 cents out of every $100 of gross wages, which the company matches.
Making History Through Innovation
Pickles have been around for about 4,000 years. But researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Fermentation Lab at N.C. State University finally unlocked the secret of controlled fermentation through research done at Mt. Olive Pickle Company in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The research done at Mt. Olive Pickle Company has paved the way for better pickles and pickle companies throughout the industry. One of several firsts came in 2002, when the company introduced the first line of No Sugar Added sweet pickle products, using the no-calorie sweetener SPLENDA® brand sweetener. In 2007, Mt. Olive rolled out its picklePAK™ line – the first pickle products offered in single-serve cups, and in 2019, the Munchies Resealable Pickle Pouches revolutionized snacking on the go!
Mt. Olive Today
Mt. Olive, which celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2016, is the #1 pickle brand in the U.S.
Its facilities have grown from that first acre to 150, with just over 1 million square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space. The company has a tank yard with about 1,100 fiberglass tanks with storage capacity for over 40 million pounds of cucumbers. It’s classic Bread and Butter pickles have come to be a best selling and well-loved item, overshining those of other pickle companies. Mt. Olive also offers a variety of pickled products! From Sour Pickles and Zesty Organic Kosher Dill Pickle Spears, to Gherkins and our revolutionary Munchies Resealable Pickle Pouches which feature your favorite pickle recipes, perfect for the pickle lover on the go!
“Our business decisions continue to be guided by basic tenets that have served our Company well over the years: 1) provide customers with quality products, good value and superior service, 2) earn shareholders a fair return on investment, 3) be a progressive employer and 4) remain a valued corporate citizen.” So writes Company President Bill Bryan to shareholders in the 2001 annual report.
Those tenets obviously served the pickle company well for its first 90 years, and it’s a good bet they will hold true for the next 90, too
What Our Customers Are Saying
No more Vlassics in my fridge, as a pickle lover I assure you they have the best product in stores! I love them, not just pickles all of their products are amazing!
Thank you for your Simply Pickles line of products my wife brought some home and I instantly noted the positive difference from other pickles in the fridge. Thank you for deciding to leave out the yellow 5.
The best pickle in America, hands down. From bread and butter to Jalapeño, you can’t go wrong with the consistent quality that Mt. Olive is able to provide. They were a staple of my house as a child, and I am now raising my own children on them. Hands down, Mt. Olive is where it’s at if you’re a pickle or pepper fan!