Thanks to an old friend Paul McDonald, and ZZest Market most of our places serve Tony Packo pickles, and everyone LOVES them! They started out on the shelves of the market after Paul suggested we try the never heard of before, pickles, from Toledo Ohio.
I didn’t know this nor remembered, but it turns out part of the fame of Tony Packo’s is due to “Klinger” on MASH. Corporal Klinger often referred to his beloved hot dog place, in episodes of MASH. For millennials, MASH was a beloved television show based on the Korean war and the 4077th Mobile Surgical Hospital Care. It ran on CBS from the early 70’s to 1983. In fact, in one episode Klinger contacts Tony Packo’s for some sausage casings which they used to make a dialysis machine. (really? ok, it’s television and television in the 70’s ) Tony Packo’s restaurant has several MASH memorabilia props, including the prop box the casings were sent in. Milk it, Tony, we would!
I read up on Tony Packo’s.
Tony Packo was born in 1908 in Toledo’s East side. He was the son of Hungarian immigrants. Tony learned the restaurant business while working for his older brother, John, who owned the Consaul Tavern located on what is now the Original Tony Packo’s parking lot. In 1932, Tony and his wife, Rose, received a $100 loan from relatives to open a sandwich and ice cream shop. Tony’s designed a signature sandwich, called the Hungarian hot dog. It was a sausage with sauce on rye; he decided to add a spicy chili sauce to enhance the flavor of the sandwich. Tony started with a Hungarian sausage called Kolbasz. It was the Depression, and he decided to cut the large sausage in half. Not only did it resemble the size of an American hot dog, but he could also sell it for 5 cents, a deal during those hard times. So began the obsession for Klinger.
Packo’s food was an instant hit in the neighborhood and word quickly spread around town about the delicious new hot dog at Tony Packo’s restaurant. By 1935, due to the success of the sandwich and ice cream shop, Tony and Rose were able to buy a building of their own. The Tony Packo products grew from there. In Toledo, you can purchase retail packs of the Hungarian hot dogs, chili sauce, pickles and peppers and THE SWEET HOTS; we are wacko for!
ZZest Market used to sell the originals along with the sweet hots plus the relish but, EVERYONE loved the sweet hots the best. So, we stuck with those adding them to the ZZest Cafe burger and now on many of the burgers at Hot Chip. The smoked meats at Porch all have a few pickles on the side. We use the pickles on sandwiches at ZZest Lunch Counter and sell jars still in the market. Pro tip- you can buy them at Hot Chip too!
We can’t get enough of Tony Packo pickles. In fact our pickle backs… Tony Packo pickle juice!! Someday though, there’s a road trip that will include a cruise through Toledo for the famous hot dog.
Can’t think of what to get Dad this Fathers Day? Pickles! A jar or two, done deal.