Today’s sandwich combines thinly-sliced honey ham, cream cheese, and something from a company in Alabama called “Wickles Hoagie and Sub Sandwich Spread” on cocktail-sized marble rye, in a sandwich I am calling a “Wickles Stacker,” due to my tendency to eat three of them off of a paper towel laid on my lap.
Notes: I’m going to be completely up-front on this one. This post, and indeed, this sandwich, which combines sweet, salty, shaved honey-baked ham, piled onto little tiny slices of marble rye spread with cream cheese, is really an excuse to talk about a new product I recently tried and have become utterly obsessed with: Wickles brand “Hoagie and Sub Relish.”
Now, to be clear, this post isn’t sponsored by Wickles. They didn’t ask me to write it. They’re not paying me, in dollars or in jars of pickles, which is, admittedly, the way I get paid for most of the work I do. The Wickles people didn’t get to me, and we don’t have any kind of tawdry, advertorial relationship…except for the one that exists entirely in my daydreams, where I get married to a giant, anthropomorphized jar of Wickles sandwich spread, in a small civil ceremony on my front lawn. I am writing this post simply because I love (LOVE!) this product, and I think you’ll like it, too.
Picture everything you’ve ever tasted. Then, imagine tasting it all at once. Super tart, vinegary dilled vegetables. Sweet, sugary cucumbers. Then, add in some spicy peppers. Tart. Sweet. Spicy. Salty. Sour. Wickles Hoagie and Sub Relish is all of these flavors, all at once, dancing on your tongue in a snappy celebration. A combination of peppers and cucumbers, pickled, seasoned, and chopped together into a relish, this spread manages to transcend any possible ethnic categorization. It’s pickled, so you think, “Oh, okay, this is Polish.” But then, this surprising heat comes out of nowhere and drop-kicks that thought out of your head. So it’s Mexican, right? Wrong! It’s all things, all at once. Hell, you can think of it as Korean, for all I care: It’s kimchi for people who don’t like kimchi, such is its suitability to be added to anything from sandwiches to macaroni & cheese to pulled pork to tacos, adding a massive hit of flavor and cool, crunchy texture.
Back to the sandwich, which how I first tried Wickles, and, if I’m still being honest, all I’ve really been eating for the last three days. I can’t help it. It’s the only thing I want. Adding cream cheese and ham to this wonderful spread only enhances its already formidable powers; the ham provides a salty, meaty base, and the soft coolness of the cream cheese mellows out the heat (as well as provides a moisture barrier for your bread). They’re little three-bite wonders, and when you use cocktail-sized loaves of bread, you get the added satisfaction of eating several of them in one sitting. Or, I should say, standing, as your first bite of a Wickles Stacker will send a river of pickle juice running down your arm and chin, into your lap, in a process that still surprises me every single time it happens, and that I have taken to mentally referring to as “Getting Wickled.” Yeah, I know.
This is, truly, a wonderful condiment. In fact, in the time I’ve been writing this post, I have stopped three times to make another sandwich, another thinly-veiled vehicle for increasingly rounded teaspoon scoops of Wickles, promising myself each time that it will be my last. I encourage you to do the same. What the hell: it’s Monday, it’s raining, no one can see you, and this is a sandwich spread that needs a little of your undivided attention.