There aren’t many foods that can claim origin in Arkansas, but the fried dill pickle is one of them. The culinary delight was created in the summer of 1963 by the late Bernell “Fatman” Austin who owned the Duchess Drive-in. Austin’s son David Smith said, “He thought, well there’s got to be a way to cash in on that pickle. Of course this is the south, where did it go? In the deep-fryer.”
The first fried dill pickles ever sold anywhere were sold in the summer of 1963 at fifteen cents for an order of fifteen hamburger slices. By late summer, he had perfected the pickle to what it is today: a large pickle sliced lengthwise and breaded in the family’s secret recipe, then deep-fried to a golden texture.
Fatman’s Original Fried Dill Pickles (as they are called today) are still a crowd pleaser at the annual two-day Picklefest held every May in downtown Atkins; the Austin family sells an estimated 2,500 orders during the festival, still using the original secret recipe and donating money raised to scholarships and charities “Fatman” had supported.