The pickle tray may be the most lowly of Thanksgiving sides, but it actually has quite a colorful history, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In Colonial times, when winter offered very little that was green to eat, preserved veggies were a dietary necessity. This kicked off the relish for relish. Even into the early 1800s, having green celery on your table was “a social coup.” Multi-compartment relish trays were all the rage by the 1900s, when olives became a status symbol.
If you, like one poster at Yahoo! Answers, wonder what the hell goes on a relish tray, check out this Chowhound thread, in which suggestions range from celery sticks stuffed with pimento cheese to hot pickled okra. And what to do with pickle tray leftovers? Chowhound has that covered, too.
Many people have fond memories of their childhood relish trays—maybe because the trays are often filled with kid-sized food.
I never liked those kid-sized pickles for some reason. Give me the pimento-stuffed olives every time.