The Pickle Juice Phenomenon

The Cougars Drink Pickle Juice to Help Prevent Cramps

For years BYU trainer George Curtis heard about pickle juice as a way to combat cramps because of its high saline and vinegar content, but he never had the courage to put it into practice until this season.

Knowing the Cougars had several games in high humidity climates and hot weather, Curtis followed up on lead with Rick Burkholder, head athletic trainer of the Philadelphia Eagles, and also talked with former Cougar All-American tight end Chad Lewis. Lewis plays for the Eagles and drinks pickle juice. Curtis also had an acquaintance who read of pickle juice in an ancestor's pioneer journal.

"I've cramped up and needed an IV or a shot in the 40 games I have played in at BYU before this year," said fullback Kalani Sitake. "Some people say it's a placebo effect, but it works for me and I haven't had any problems this year. It doesn't taste very good, just like biting into a pickle when the juice squishes out in your mouth, but there's no pickle. I don't mind the taste. I want to market 'Pickle-aid,' I recommend it."

BYU's Cannon Center cafeteria and hotels on the road save pickle juice for the Cougars. The juice is not watered down.

"I tried some for the first time at Virginia because it was a different color and the player's thought it was diluted," said Curtis. "My eyes crossed, my lips puckered-it was the real stuff."

Cougar center Jason Scukanec is one player who does not drink pickle juice because he is allergic to vinegar. He cramped up in both of the first two games this season, which is why he was doubled up on the field just prior to Owen Pochman kicking the winning field goal in overtime at Virginia.

"We will continue to have our players drink pickle juice on a heavy basis through the end of the month at Syracuse and then let players decide on an individually after that," said Curtis. "I've had teams call me now from both coasts who are interested in trying it."

Look for the trainers carrying out bottles that are loaded with Powerade, but other bottles have a taped label "pickle juice" slapped on it. Players usually gulp drinks loaded with electrolytes or water as a chaser after swigging the pickle juice.

The low-down on pickle juice:

1 1/2 gallons of pickle juice were consumed by BYU at Florida State and 2 1/2 gallons were consumed at Virginia.

Cougars drink three to four ounces of pickle juice one hour before the game and another two ounces at halftime.

Kalani Sitake leads all Cougars by drinking pickle juice every half hour during the game, consuming 10-12 ounces per game.