By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jun 04, 2024 at 10:01 AM

People love pickles. Not all people – I know a few who don't wanna pick a peck of pickled anything – but statistically they are more popular than ever. Such is the case for Van Holten’s Pickles, a pickle-in-a-pouch company based in Waterloo, Wis.

“Our pickle-in-a-pouch sales have increased for 26 consecutive years,” says Steve Byrnes, the president of Van Holten’s Pickles.

Van Holten’s started in 1898 on Milwaukee’s East Side as a vinegar distributor and added sauerkraut and pickles to its product line a few years later. Byrnes’ father, Jim, purchased the company from the fourth generation of Van Holtens in 1992.

Byrnes says innovation is at the heart of the family business’ growth.

“Collaborations with iconic brands like Tapatio Hot Sauce, Warheads Sour Candy, and, most recently, Pickle Rick from the Rick and Morty Show are elevating our brand and increasing our popularity,” says Byrnes. “We create special packaging and flavors for our product mashups with these brands, and they have been incredibly popular.”


The timing of pop-culture-meets-pickles is perfect. For the past decade, pickles have become more popular as food items because of their potential health benefits, but also the new fun flavors of everything from popcorn to cotton candy. This, along with Van Holten’s long-running sense of humor, with products like the Big Papa and the Hot Mama, have attracted hordes of new customers who want both a snack and a smile.

“Pickles are fun, especially a Pickle-In-A-Pouch! Everyone likes fun, so we are in a great position to bring a little joy to someone’s day,” says Byrnes. “Our pickles are healthier than many other snack options, packing a lot of flavor into very few calories. People continue to search for better, more convenient snacks, and we fit right in with that trend.”

Van Holten’s pickles-in-a-pouch are available in most local gas stations and grocery stores, but recently made it onto the shelves of Five Below, Spencer’s, Urban Outfitters, BoxLunch and others.

And Van Holten’s international business is even spicier. The pickles are sold in Europe, United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, the Middle East and South Africa.

“Our international business has blown up beyond anything I could have even imagined,” says Byrnes. “I never thought we’d be receiving fan mail from Latvia, but here we are!"

In recent months, it has accounted for more than 20 percent of sales. 

“Boldly flavored American products are in high demand worldwide, driven by social media,” says Byrnes. “Search for Van Holten’s Pickles or 'pickle-in-a-pouch' on TikTok, and you’ll see what I mean. It seems like everyone is trying to out shock each other with their flavor combinations, and we are here for it.”


Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.