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Quad-Cities restaurants in a pickle
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Quad-Cities restaurants in a pickle

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The Quad-Cities has gone gaga over gherkins.

In less than a week, an online spat about who invented pickle wraps has triggered a local fad, drawn the attention of police and has the salty snack suddenly showing up on restaurant menus across the region. 

A Midwestern potluck staple, pickle wraps are made with pickles, cream cheese and ham. Some people call them pinwheels or Iowa sushi. 

But in a June 10 Facebook post, Cafe Fresh, Moline, claimed to have the “original idea to do a cream cheese pickle slice as (its) take on the deli spear.” The cafe also called out Meatball’s Sandwich Company for having pickle wraps in the same style on its menu. 

The post amassed hundreds of reactions and comments, many disputing the cafe’s claim to creating the original pickle wrap. Cafe Fresh opened in 2007, which some people pointed out when describing their own pickle-wrap encounters, often dating back decades. 

While there isn’t a record of exactly when and where the pickle wrap came about, the belief is that it originated from a German recipe, according to a 2016 story about the appetizers in The Des Moines Register, citing an Iowa cookbook author.  

Regardless, Meatball's Sandwich Company of Bettendorf has seen a sizable community response. The shop sold out of bread and had to close early over the weekend.

On Monday, it sold out of pickle wraps.

"I never thought pickle wraps could get so huge," Meatball's Sandwich Company owner Kyle Yohe said. 

Local Davenport restaurant Cavort partnered with Meatball's Sandwich Company over the weekend, selling pickle wraps for $5 and donating all the proceeds to the River Bend Food Bank. When they ran out of wraps, they sold pickle-wrap dip instead. 

Cavort co-owner Alex Nagel said they'd raised $315 total, and expected a couple of more donations to come in the next days. People who bought wraps and dip were entered into a drawing to receive one of two $25 gift cards to Meatball's Sandwich Company. 

"We just thought it was something lighthearted to change the narrative from what it was when it started off," Nagel said. 

Other businesses have hopped in the pickle jar, sharing memes and offering their own takes on the recipe. LoPiez, for example, decided to change up its cheese pizza by adding sliced pickle wraps on top.

Capture Selfie Studio held a deal over the weekend, putting those who booked online or came for a walk-in into a drawing to win one of two Meatball’s Sandwich Company gift cards. The studio also provided free pickle wraps.

The Moline police department even gave its two cents, joking about the controversy and encouraging people to support small businesses. 

“Regardless of who invented pickle wraps, we can all agree our community is better because they exist,” the department said on social media.

Cafe Fresh did not return calls or social media messages seeking comment on Monday. 

Eleven17 owner Eric Sergesketter is relishing the pickle-wrap war. He's planning a pickle-wrap making competition, with a portion of the proceeds from the event, June 20 at Eleven17, 1117 Mound St. in Davenport, going to charity. 

"We've turned it into a positive, lighthearted joke," Sergesketter said. 

In the end, what started as a salty feud has brought people together, even if that wasn't the original goal, Nagel said.

"It was a funny something that only could've happened in the Quad-Cities," he said. 

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