What started as a hobby using great-grandmother Lala’s dill pickle recipe is now a thriving international business for brothers and cofounders Joe and Bob McClure. Based in Detroit, Michigan, McClure’s Pickles produces 6,000 to 7,000 bottles of pickles a day, four days a week, and they’re having a great time doing it. “It’s a big value of ours,” says Joe, “that we’re having fun with family.” Their staff includes their parents, Jennifer and Mike.
The product line has expanded since the company’s founding in 2006, and the story of how McClure’s Bloody Mary Mix ended up as one of the goods is a classic. As the business grew, the brothers sold their wares at farmers’ markets in Detroit and Brooklyn, New York, and got to know their customers. “We’d tell people, ‘When you finish the pickles, don’t spill out the leftover brine,’” says Joe. “Instead, ‘Fill the jar with tomato juice for a fantastic Bloody Mary mix.’”
Customers started coming back for more pickles, telling the brothers, ‘We need another jar so we can devour the pickles and make more Bloody Mary mix.’
Customers started coming back for more pickles, telling the brothers, “We need another jar so we can devour the pickles and make more Bloody Mary mix,” until finally, Joe says, those customers started saying, “You guys should really make this stuff for us.”
So they did. That was around 2008, and these days they produce 7,000 to 8,000 bottles a week. But that wasn’t the end of their innovation.
In 2011, Erin Rose, a friend and founder of the blog Positive Detroit, mentioned how much she loved McClure’s pickles as well as potato chips from Better Made, another Detroit company. “All I want for Christmas is @bettermade @mcclurespickles joining forces and creating a dill pickle potato chip,” she tweeted.
“Better Made got wind of it, we got wind of it, and they called us,” says Joe. “They thought it was clever, and did we want to come over and brainstorm?” So the two iconic Detroit brands “smashed” their products together into Garlic Dill Pickle Potato Chips. Since then, they’ve added Spicy Pickle and—you guessed it—tangy, spicy Bloody Mary Kettle Cooked Potato Chips.
If your mouth is watering, visit the McClure’s website to find retail locations near you or order online. Read more of the McClure brothers’ story and check out the recipes, including a simple and delicious one for McClure’s Bloody Mary Gumbo.