With This Disney Snack, We've Reached Peak Pickle

Would you eat a pickle milkshake? At EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival, maybe yes.

If you had told me at any point in the past that I would one day willingly try a pickle milkshake—not only that, but actually enjoy it—I would have called you bonkers. The idea that such a bizarre juxtaposition of flavors could be anything other than a jokey gimmick is unfathomable, yet, somehow, it works. And all it took was a lab full of Muppets to make it happen.

At the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival each year, food and drink stations offering different global cuisines pop up around the park's World Showcase. It happens every fall at Walt Disney World, but it's now so popular and draws such huge crowds that the festival begins in July, immediately after the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival ends.

The festival always includes a Brew-Wing Lab, a spot that sells mostly beers and chicken wings ("Brew-Wing," get it?). This year's location is a Muppet Lab, where Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker are serving up their edible "experiments." Among the food offerings: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sticky Wings; Orange-Cardamom Wings; and Unnecessarily Spicy, Yet Extremely Tasty Scotch Bonnet Pepper-Curry Wings with cool cucumber yogurt. Most of the beverages are pretty normal, especially for Muppets: three beers, three hard ciders, and a nonalcoholic "Frozen Fusion" featuring pomegranate and raspberry herbal tea fused with orange ice cream molecules.

But there's one more drinkable item on offer, and as you might have guessed, it involves pickles.

Inside the lab, you might see Dr. Honeydew and Beaker pop up on screens, explaining their work. But even if you don't, their lab notes are everywhere: One poster explains "The Origins and Treatment of: Sphenopalatine Ganglioneuralgia a.k.a. Brain Freeze," which offers possible causes like "you have ingested a frozen item in haste due to the natural law that ice cream is too delicious to eat slowly" and "a friend has asked to try your pickle milkshake, and you do not wish to share." Another poster shows their notes on "The Electric Pickle," explaining the actual science (not Muppet science) behind a pickle's ability to conduct electricity and to glow in the dark when attached to a power source. It has to do with the pickle's salt and water content, but don't ask me to explain—Dr. Honeydew can probably do a better job of it.

I was at the Brew-Wing Lab for a different kind of pickle experiment: a taste test of the divisive pickle milkshake that has been a hotly contested topic among Disney foodies since this year's festival began. I'm no stranger to this kind of pickly research, having tested Disneyland's pickle corn dog and Trader Joes' at-home dupe—but the milkshake was a stretch, even for me.

Once I received my order, I spent time snapping photos, putting off what I assumed was going to be a deeply unpleasant tasting experience. That's what made the first sip so confusing: Rather than a mouthful of creamy pickle brine, the neon-green milkshake offered the herbal, mild savory flavor of fresh dill, a surprisingly nice complement to the vanilla base. It wasn't too sweet, perhaps because it was served so cold.

I won't say it was identifiably pickle-forward. There was no sharp vinegar edge, no hint of the strong tang that accompanies a perfect pickle. Instead, this shake focuses on the more vegetal aspects, aiming to create something that's more tasty than stunty. The shake had a swirl of whipped cream on top, plus a sprinkling of brining spices and a garnish of fresh dill.

Those who seek out milkshakes stuffed with mix-ins and topped with a piece of cake might not find a lot to love about the pickle milkshake. But anyone who tends to gravitate toward botanical cocktails will want to give this concoction a taste. The conclusion of this experiment might not align with your initial hypothesis.