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A crispy approach to dehydration

Manufacturing and summertime mean one thing, it’s hot. Most people might complain about how hot it is after mowing a quarter-acre yard in August. Try getting up on top of an overhead crane that carries molten metal every day in the middle of August in any of the Southern states, and you will feel what real hot is. With the amount of heat that comes with the summer months along with the heat generated in a variety of manufacturing processes, we all must stay focused on our hydration and our electrolytes to stay safe. Within your arsenal of strategies to promote this mindset in these months, have you given pickles a chance?

Staying hydrated and watching your electrolytes are critical for your safety and those around you. Staying away from carbonated drinks and candy bars while focusing on water and electrolytes will set you up for a safe day on the job and an effective recovery. Replacing those dehydrated and sugar-loaded snacks with fruit are commonly seen as a strategy to counter dehydration. And speaking of fruit, I have routinely said that if you put 10 apples, 10 oranges, and 10 pickles in a breakroom for your team to refuel with, the 10 pickles will be gone before one of the oranges or apples is gone. What’s so magical about a pickle?

They may be a tasty side for your grilled cheese sandwich or a yummy garnish on your bloody mary at brunch, but they're also packed full of nutritional benefits that make them more than worth it to eat.- Lydia Greene - Wide Open Eats

The use with outages

During outages, our teams need to be fueled properly coming into an outage, during an outage, and maintain awareness of a healthy recovery. We require easily digestible carbohydrates, electrolytes, and fluids to face the effects of the work environment and the intensity of the summer heat. Stop and compare the intensity of a 60-minute job on top of a molten metal-carrying overhead crane to that of a 60-minute football game on one’s body. One could argue that the crane job requires a heck of a lot more endurance to be successful.

Pickle history to handle dehydration

There is a story of an NFL game in 2000 with the Dallas Cowboys facing off with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys, led by the Hall of Fame members of Aiken and Smith, were coming off a playoff loss after an 8-8 season with an inner-division game against the Eagles. A noon CST kickoff and 109 degrees Fahrenheit field temperature in Dallas had all the likings of a home-field advantage. However, the story has it that the Eagles loaded up on pickles prior to and during the game to replenish electrolytes, and walked away with a 41-10 shellacking. The athletic trainer, Rick Burkholder, had encouraged eating pickles and drinking pickle juice before the game to have the energy and ability to avoid cramps during one of the hottest games in NFL history. And from this experience, Rick became somewhat of a legend providing inside to colleges and professional sports to counter cramping and dehydration issues. What is in this magical solution?

For years, Rick Burkholder went around pontificating this radical solution and mythical concoction. Visiting college campuses or being interviewed by all the sports channels, his secret of pickle juice was out. However, he contested that there isn’t any finite evidence that correlates the vegetable within a brine solution to a reduction in cramps, however, there are casual relationships that support the myth. With the introduction of salts at a moderate amount and replacing high-fructose sports drinks, the substitution might just be all that is needed.

Marketing its strength

It has become so mythical over the years that companies such as PicklePower claim that their pickle juice solution is “10x-15x the electrolytes of common sports drinks, zero Calories Zero Sugar, and proprietary blend vitamins and minerals” to mitigate the worst of cramps. Regardless, I will contest that there is something true to this and something magical about the strength of the pickle.

Pickle juice, and not deionized water, inhibits electrically induced muscle cramps in hypohydrated humans. This effect could not be explained by rapid restoration of body fluids or electrolytes. We suspect that the rapid inhibition of the electrically induced cramps reflects a neurally mediated reflex that originates in the oropharyngeal region and acts to inhibit the firing of alpha motor neurons of the cramping muscle. - Kevin C Miller, Gary W Mack, Kenneth L Knight, J Ty Hopkins, David O Draper, Paul J Fields, Iain Hunter

Within manufacturing, I am not saying that the solution to your hydration concerns is to get your staff departments to make homemade pickles to distribute from individually sliced cucumbers, whisked together with water, vinegar, and your selected seasonings. Where this would be a pretty fantastic and so showcase of empathy to support the manufacturing processes, I have a different solution. Stock your fridges inside the breakrooms with Rick’s solution; pickles. If you think I am crazy, try it.


The best solution I have seen is the individually wrapped pickles that are offered from warehouse stores. Consider the likes of ice cold Van Holten's Jumbo Dill Pickle or a bag of Oh Snap Pickles. These tasty treats will do wonders for your department while minimizing the risk of dehydration in these hot summer months. Stick them in a refrigerator or place them into an ice chest. A team member looking for something to quickly refuel them so they will get back to work will greatly appreciate a perfectly timed pickle. Contractors that are in your plant for your periodic outage will go back to their halls proclaiming about the availability of pickles. All of this while you are conducting your outages with a hyperfocus on hydration.

Where you might have thought that the pickle was only that tasty attribute on a hamburger or it was a glass ornament to be placed last on a Christmas tree, you now have an alternative way to use its magical strengths. Test it out within your operations, and see what your team thinks about a cold, crisp-sounding pickle in the middle of a hot summer month. It might just be what you need to mitigate your hydration challenges.



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