Pickles: Their importance in Food Culture and Their Absence in the Fallout Franchise

fallout 8 - Pickles: Their importance in Food Culture and Their Absence in the Fallout Franchise

TL;DR This is an essay saying pickles are important and I just realized there aren't any pickle items in the fallout games but there kinda should be. I'm mostly joking but this is still an essay.

Recently the topic of food preservation within the Fallout franchise was brought into discussion by u/drforrester-tvsfrank in a theory post about the presence of radiation in Fallout foods, specifically the pre-war era preserved foods. The presence of preserved food from the bygone era of Fallout's past is a strong part of the Fallout setting and lore. Despite this, there are practically no pickles to speak of in the Fallout games. Pickles are an important facet of global food culture. Before the refrigerator and sodium-based preservatives, salt/drying methods and pickling were the only two long-term food preservation methods available. Almost every culture has some form of pickle in their diets, and they are a mainstay of the modern refrigerator. A wide array of fruits, vegetables, and meats are brined and pickled both for preservation and for flavor so the presence of a pickle in any given homestead has been, for a good many centuries, nigh universal.

For the purposes of this essay a pickle is defined as a food preserved in vinegar, brine, or similar solution.

Foods have always been present in the Fallout games, and have worked generally as both lore items and low-mid tier healing items. Dandy Boy Apples, Sugar Bombs, Salisbury Steak, Nuka Cola etc fall in to the category of the aforementioned pre-war foods. The Fallout franchise is heavily inspired by the Cold-War era of the United States (taking heavy inspiration from American culture between the late 1940s and early-mid 1970s) and many of its most iconic items are implemented due their implementation within that era. Sugary cereal, salty snacks, and cold soft drinks were introduced to the global market at this time due to many important aspects of a world after WWII: increased domestic manufacturing, increased presence of radio, television, and paper advertisement, and the evolution of the home appliance. Higher manufacturing meant more stuff could be made for cheaper (especially food items), radio and television supplementing catalog advertising meant more people knew about new products and could buy them more easily, and evolved home appliances made preserving and storing foods more convenient for the average household.

To put it succinctly, technology made sure more things were being made, bought, and sold. Foodstuffs especially underwent a massive change in culture at this time due to the invention of the microwave oven and refrigerator as well as improvements to the convection oven and stove. Specific to the 1950s, when these innovations were first implemented to the commercial market, there was the formation of "Refrigerator food culture". It was a time of extreme experimentation with the new possibilities found within domestic foods. Nuka Cola is based around fizzy soft drinks (ie soda/pop) that were best served cold to pair with new fridges and Sugar Bombs from the wheat-and-sugar cereals that began heavy advertisement at the time, thus showing this era's direct influence on items within the franchise.


Of the two preservation techniques prior to the refrigerator that found new life in the food industry, dried foods are represented by Dandy Boy Apples and salted foods by Salisbury Steaks. These old methods of preservation were not forgotten, but improved and also implemented in this new era of domestic foods. Pickles similarly found a new presence in this era with what is commonly referred to when using the word "pickle", pickled cucumbers. There is likely a jar of some form of pickled cucumber within your own refrigerator at this moment (relish, sliced, whole, dill, etc). Like many domestic items, they were not abandoned in the improvement of household technology but, in fact, improved and made more available.

The actual placement of pre-war food items in the Fallout franchise is within two forms: scavenged from above-ground ruins having been exposed to the elements, and scavenged in under-ground bunkers having completely and perfectly remained preserved. The packaging of these items are either glass or cardboard (glass for drinks and cardboard for foods). The glass bottles of Nuka Cola are all-but untouched by years of weathering however cardboard food boxes have weathered poorly and, though still preserved and available for consumption, the foods within have been irradiated and lost much of their nutritional value in contrast to their well preserved counterparts. Modern pickles require refrigeration after opening due to a lower acidic/salt presence compared to conventional pickling. However they likely would still at least be present in the future as either unopened jars or jars with superior brine qualities in much the same way the other preserved foods have survived the weathering of Fallout's environment, with especial quality of healing from the pickles you'd likely find in the Vaults.

The lack of pickles has generally been un-confronted by the Fallout developers and fanbase, but at this point it needs be said: there are more pickle jars in the Five Nights at Freddy's franchise than there are within the Fallout franchise. If indie developer Scott Cawthon is beating you (a Triple-A game studio) at something, then perhaps you need to evaluate your failures as a company. Flood pickles into the next installment of Fallout. Have a Willy Wonka-style pickle factory with rivers of brine and walls of cucumber. Have an entire quest dedicated to drinking old brine and hallucinating an anthropomorphic jar of pickles guiding you on a spiritual journey. The best time for pickles was 300 years ago during the height of pre-war culture, and the second best time is now.

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