PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - Residents of Picayune can rest a little easier. The big pickle is back where it belongs.
As we reported on Wednesday, the large, green trademark outside "Mickle's Pickles" downtown was stolen. Happily, it's been returned to the business.
"It's okay, we've got the pickle. It's back," said a smiling Mickey Fluitt to a visting customer.
"Good, I'm so happy," she said.
Perhaps it was the reward, perhaps the pickle perpetrator has a conscience. Whatever the reason, Mickle's giant pickle is back.
The owner could never relish the thought of someone dill-iberately swiping the icon.
"I'm almost in tears. It's just unbelievable. I showed up here one night and I look up and it's gone," said Fluitt.
The former teacher-turned-pickle-producer did what anyone might do if their prize pickle is pilfered.
"It's a crime. What's the first thing you do? My wife called 911. And the police showed up and they were laughing more than I am now," said Mickey. "They said, 'What's the problem?' And I said, 'Someone stole my pickle.'"
A subsequent reward brought more giggles than leads.
"We put up fliers yesterday offering a reward, and we were going to title it: 'Have You Seen My Pickle?' But we walked up to one or two places with, 'Have you seen my pickle??'" said Fluitt, bursting with laughter.
Sales of his homemade pickles are nothing to laugh about. This cucumber king sells nearly 25,000 jars a year. His missing pickle was big news.
Ginger Schmidt wrote the news article for the local newspaper, The Picayune Item.
"It's been the talk of the town. And in fact, I was so surprised, it was the first time I've written something and it's actually gone out on the wire. And the next thing I know, it's everywhere," said the reporter.
Pickle man is so smooth a self promoter, we can't help but wonder if perhaps he pilfered his own pickle.
"That accusation was made very early on. I mean like from day one," says a smiling Fluitt.
Like a slick politician, pickle guy never directly answers our question. The important thing is, Mickle's Big Pickle is back.
"Going to leave it out. It's going to be on the front counter. Everybody's gonna want to come in and get the photo op," said Mickey Fluitt.
So what exactly happened to the big pickle? It was supposedly found by some teenagers out four-wheeling with friends. The pickle was then passed between several teens and eventually given to the pickle maker's teenage son.
By the way, the pickle itself is a unique story. Mickey Fluitt received the pickle from Jerry Strayhan with the famous "Lucky Dog" company in New Orleans. It's a Heinz pickle that once hung above the concession stand at the old Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.