Chris Hobson and Scott Kaylin are really proud of the time they made a woman cry.
Don’t worry—they were tears of joy. And they were all because of a pickle.
Hobson and Kaylin are the duo behind Kaylin & Hobbs, a pickle company that launched in 2017 inside the Granville Island Public Market. Bringing New York-style pickles to the West Coast, they are opening the eyes of Vancouverites to a world beyond kosher dill.
But back to the crying woman. She came up to the Kaylin & Hobbs booth and went straight for a sample of the half sour pickle. “She walked away and I thought, ‘Ok, well, she’s thinking about it.’ Then she comes back and brings her family this time, and suddenly her eyes start swelling up with tears and her son starts rubbing her back and saying, ‘It’s okay, mom,’” recalls Hobson. The small bite of pickle, the woman managed to croak out, reminded her of her grandmother. “It was so immediate for her,” Hobson continues. “Taste can bring back someone. For us, we’re just selling cucumbers. We had no idea what we were getting into with who we could reach and how we could reach them.”
Pickles are usually loved at a distance. They are sliced and put unenthusiastically onto burgers or shoved in corners to fill up charcuterie plates. Pickles are a side story, not an engaging plot. But maybe Kaylin & Hobbs can change that.
Kaylin and Hobson, who met through their wives, bonded over a mutual love of New York pickles, and a frustration that nothing suitable could be found in Vancouver. Starved for their beloved snack, they did what the entrepreneurial always do: they made their own.
Well, sort of. Kaylin & Hobbs pickles are created in New York, not Vancouver. “People ask, ‘Why don’t you make them here?’ Well, there’s 150 years of pickle-making history in New York,” says Hobson. “For us, it’s about going to the heart of where the best pickles were made.”
There is a kosher dill Kaylin & Hobbs pickle, but the true effectiveness of this company lies in the other flavours: the aforementioned half sour; mustard; spicy dill; horseradish; and more. They are fresh, flavourful, and exciting. These aren’t the sad pickles found at a neighbourhood block party. These pickles are the party.
Introducing current pickle-lovers to new varieties is one thing—converting pickle-haters is a whole other level of accomplishment. Kaylin recalls convincing a man to try one of the flavours as his wife looked on in shock. “She was saying, ‘For 25 years I’ve been wanting him to try pickles!’” he says. “She started taking pictures and calling her kids.” Not only did he try it, but he liked it. And then he bought some to take home.
Read more from our Meet the Market series.