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What’s the dill with the viral pickle sweatshirt taking over TikTok?

The brine-based garment has hundreds of millions of views — and over a million dollars in sales.
Pickle sweatshirt
TikTok’s latest craze have left users’ feeds in a bit of a pickle.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images

Pickles seem to have hit prime time — or, rather, brine time — on TikTok.

It’s summer 2023, and people all over video-sharing app have been spotting — and spotting again — one particular pickle sweatshirt in their feeds. Printed with 16 pickle jars from such brands as Claussen, Mt. Olive and Grillo’s Pickles, the sweatshirt has seemingly let out a siren call that’s drawn every pickle-lover in the country into its plush cotton sleeves.

At the time of this writing, the #picklesweatshirt hashtag has garnered more than 145 million views to date on TikTok, with videos featuring the quirky clothing item on influencers with millions of followers down to the everyday user showing off their new merch. The sweatshirt has even been spotted outside TikTok, on Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter) and beyond. 

But it’s on TikTok, which quietly began testing its e-commerce feature in the U.S. in November 2022, that the brine-based garment has proven most ubiquitous. The platform’s shop has since been integrated seamlessly into the main feed, a tab on sellers’ individual account pages and via TikTok Live, where folks are selling everything from wigs to crocheted earrings and lightbulbs to a live audience. But, for so many, the pickle sweatshirt specifically has been served to us on a platter, over and over again, on our For You pages.

It seems the pickle sweatshirt has reached critical mass, with people clamoring to buy a long-sleeved sweatshirt in the middle of August, even as the country reaches record-high temperatures. So … what’s happening here? Let’s crack open this jar of pickles.

Where did the pickle sweatshirt come from?

If you go down the pickle sweatshirt rabbit hole, you will inevitably land on one specific TikTok account: Bad Addiction Boutique, which touts itself as a “Boutique For Hot Mess Anxious Moms.”

The shop has other tongue-in-cheek items with slogans like “Morning Wood Lumber Company,” “Anti Social Moms Club” and another, more racy pickle design, but no other product on its page has sold quite like the pickle sweatshirt, according to TikTok Shop.

The concept of this design — a four-by-four grid of pickle jars — has existed before Bad Addiction Boutique. For example, one similar pickle sweatshirt design on clothing retailer Bellement existed on Oct. 2, 2022, according to the Internet Archive, well before the first TikTok showing Bad Addiction’s own product on Jan. 26 of this year. And plenty of Etsy sellers have sold similar designs for some time, too.

But Bad Addiction Boutiques’ seems to be the only pickle jar sweatshirt to reach this type of virality. To the shop’s owner, Jessica Slone, this type of success feels surreal.

“There are moments it seems too good to be true,” Slone tells in an email. “The whirlwind of going viral on TikTok has introduced a mix of heartwarming and demanding aspects to my life.”

At the time of this writing, Bad Addiction’s pickle sweatshirt has sold over 32,400 times, according to TikTok Shop. Doing a little napkin math here, since the sweatshirt costs $44, that comes to $1,425,600 total. Even subtracting TikTok’s reported 1.8% to 5% commission fee, labor, shipping and other costs, that’s an amazing profit for one design.

Which, of course, is making people wonder.

What are people saying about the pickle sweatshirt?

Because this sweatshirt has reached the kind of virality any small business could dream of, there has been a fair share of side-eyes and skepticism online about it.

“if i get on tiktok and see a pickle sweatshirt one more time imma go to tiktok headquarters myself,” tweeted one person.

“tiktok fyp won’t stop showing influencers pretending to be in love with a pickle sweatshirt,” tweeted another.

“I am being haunted by that tik tok pickle sweatshirt. I cannot escape it. somebody please help me,” tweeted someone else.

“Why the f--- is everyone buying this pickle sweatshirt? It’s just a bunch of pickles,” says @familyfriendlyrwang in a TikTok that has garnered over 3 million views. “ I don’t get it. Why pickles? Why not kimchi?”

Regardless, tens of thousands of people own the sweatshirt, so the Bad Addiction account has fired back at critics who claim the store is part of some broad, pickle-based conspiracy.

“Bad Addiction Boutique is actually a conspiracy, not to mention the cult-like fan base,” says TikToker @1800shirts in a video exploring what may be driving the item’s virality.

Stitching that video, Slone made light of the criticism by playing into it with a harsh green light, candles and pickle sweatshirts. Enrobed by a blanket, she says, “There’s always room for one more.”

“It’s truly puzzling how a clothing item can become the subject of a conspiracy theory, but everyone’s entitled to their own views, right?” Slone says, stressing that Bad Addiction is just a small, family-run boutique. “Despite my efforts to remain unaffected, I must admit that, being human, these negative sentiments can sometimes get to me.”

“Back when we started the boutique in 2019, it was predominantly my husband Ryan and I overseeing operations.”

Slone says the shop started in 2019 as just a husband-and-wife operation. Bad Addiction began selling via TikTok Shop in late January of this year, and by early March, it had fully leaned into its TikTok presence, creating videos featuring its merch.

“June turned into the month of the Pickle EXPLOSION,” she says.

Slone says that when the shop started selling a few hundred per day, family and friends helped out. Now that Bad Addiction has gone viral, the shop has assembled a crew of printers, packers, shippers and even virtual assistants to keep things running smoothly.

“As the orders surged to 1000-2000 daily, we expanded into a full-fledged pickle-producing operation that runs around the clock,” she says.

But, as @1800shirts asks in his original video, “Who’s posting this sweatshirt?”

The algorithm is driving sales with TikTok Shop — and influencers

Many accounts are featuring the pickle sweatshirt, including influencers who all seem to like the sweatshirt, but they have incentive to do so.

On Aug. 8, TikTok user Jon Thrifts shared his mostly positive review of the pickle sweatshirt in his “Hoodie Hunt” series to his more than 214,000 followers.

Like so many other users with tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of followers donning the sweatshirt, he has a convenient link for purchase as well an “Eligible for commission” tag below the caption on his videos.

A pickle sweatshirt video that includes and "eligible for commission" tag.
A pickle sweatshirt video that includes and "eligible for commission" tag.@jonthrifts via TikTok

This tag indicates that users can potentially make money off of certain videos if users follow the link in their videos and buy the product.

In Jon Thrift’s comments, though, viewers were asking him what the deal was with the sweatshirt, since it isn’t a hoodie, so in a follow-up video a day later, he explained what was going on.

“Here’s the tea. Why is everyone buying it? They’re not. Well, some people are but the creators showing you the product, they probably got it for free,” he says in his now-viral video. “If it’s not obvious by now, TikTok is really pushing their TikTok shop.”

Interestingly, his video “exposing the truth” about the sweatshirt also has an “Eligible for commission” tag.

“As a welcome to the TikTok Shop for Creators they gave me a $50 coupon and with that is how I got the pickle sweatshirt,” Jon, who asked that we only use his first name to protect his identity, tells Jon says creators that make videos for items in the TikTok Shop get a commission, and each product has its own commission rate. “There’s a lot of things like freeze-dried candies and little knick knacks and electronics but I’m in the fashion niche so I chose to review the sweatshirt.”

Jon says that he, like so many others, started to see the sweatshirt everywhere one day, and that’s part of the reason he wanted to try it in the first place.

“I think I’ve sold a couple hundred, so I’m glad I can help out, but when I originally posted I did not think it would get nearly as many views but here we are,” he says.

But there are many other influencers who have helped with the pickle sweatshirt’s record-breaking success.

“I must give shout out to one of my favorite influencers on TikTok @FootballCrazeVids because he is the leader in pickle sweatshirt conversions,” she says, mentioning the account whose comedic review has garnered a staggering 19.7 million views.

“The funny thing is it isn’t even about the pickles he just likes warmth and the Pickle sweatshirt provided him that,” Slone says. “In just the last 7 days he has sold over 454 pickle sweatshirts from his one video.”

According to TikTok, the virality of the sweatshirt is just the algorithm at work. A TikTok spokesperson, who declined to speak on the record, says that it’s not involved beyond just being the platform through which Bad Addiction is selling its copious amount of pickle sweatshirts.

TikTok notes that the pickle sweatshirt is far from the only product users have been reviewing that have seen success. The Washed Becca High Scoop Neck Bralette from size-inclusive shop Alexander Jane has sold nearly 9,000 times for over $166,000 in gross sales. Similarly, MySmileUS, an oral care company, has sold more than 30,000 teeth whitening kits on TikTok for $41.95 a pop — that’s over $1 million in gross sales on that single item.

TikTok Live now includes a Shop feature for some accounts.
TikTok Live now includes a Shop feature for some accounts.@threads.of.hopee via TikTok

So, the pickle sweatshirt, while a regular guest on our For You pages, is just one of many.

“This is a nice sweatshirt, the print is nice. It fits well. I saw a lot of people calling it a scam but I don’t think it’s a scam at all. I just think it’s an absolutely viral product,” Jon says of the sweatshirt he’s continued to wear — and post about. “I just think there’s a lot of people that love pickles.”

How to shop safely on TikTok

The launch of any shopping experience online, especially one connected to one of the biggest social media platforms in the world, is sure to draw its fair share of scammers.

There have been reports of videos with high views and like counts promoting unregulated items like weight loss pills and DIY lipo injections.

On this matter, the TikTok spokesperson says that the platform has a wide range of policies to protect users from fake, fraudulent and misleading content, removing any content that violates these policies. In addition to users having to be 18 or older to use the shop, TikTok says it uses manual moderation technology to review products at the time of listing and continually looks for rule violations. Users can also lodge complaints and leave negative reviews, which TikTok monitors.

Additionally, the TikTok Shop Academy, a guide to using the shop, lists items that are not permitted, like radioactive materials and equipment, human body parts, sexually explicit content, drugs, other illegal items and more.

Just like with any form of online shopping, there are precautions you can take to keep your wallet — and body — safe. The Washington Post published a helpful guide for shopping smart on TikTok. The publication recommends reading the comments and searching for reviews on TikTok and elsewhere for red flags, and when it comes to things like food, cosmetics or other things that go in or on your body, be extra careful.

Clothing seems relatively harmless by comparison, but if you’re tempted by the lure of the pickle sweatshirt, these tips are still helpful for avoiding scams. After all, $44 is a big dill to some.