In a Pickle: India Relish's Origins

feature-in-a-pickle-b-and-g-india-relish-400x400-i166

feature-in-a-pickle-b-and-g-india-relish-400x400-i166

Helen Rosner

While constructing Papa's Favorite Wild West Hamburger, we found ourselves wondering about the origins of India relish. As it turns out, the sweet, slightly piquant condiment was actually the invention of H. J. Heinz in 1889. The original secret recipe, loosely based on traditional Indian relishes, featured a sugared and vinegared mix of pickled cucumbers, green tomatoes, cauliflower, white onions, red bell peppers, celery, and mustard seed, plus cinnamon and allspice. The FDA didn't appreciate its inspired name, and it took Heinz to court in 1910 for misbranding a product that was not, in actuality, from India. They seized five cases of India relish, but the legal case, along with one against Holland Gin, was dismissed when the court ruled the name was being used generically. For decades the relish—today made by a number of brands, including B&G, with a shorter list of vegetables—has added zip to cookout foods like macaroni salads and hot dogs.