Miscellaneous, Potpourri, UncategorizedThe Answer To The Age Old Question…How Many Pickled Peppers Did Peter PiperPick?

Posted on April 22, 2017 by les-grizzlys-catalans.org

So lately work has been rather slow and so a few days ago I found myself indescribably bored. So bored, in fact, I was able to determine the species of a “woodchuck” from just the information given in the tongue twister. It’s a groundhog by the way. (Ask me if you wanna how)

Hence I thought to myself “Hell, why don’t I figure out how many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick? What could go wrong?”. So began my journey (not really, I didn’t leave my room) and I am proud to tell you I think I may have found the answer to “How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?”.


First for those who don’t now what I’m talking about;

“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?”

You may be thinking; “Neil, the answer is obvious, Peter Piper picked a peck!”. And you sir or madam would be correct, but here at No Fun Neil, where we destroy fun, that is simply not good enough!

In order to truly solve this age old question we have to do do a few things first

Who is Peter Piper?What type of pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?How long will it be before I go insane typing “pepper”?And finally, what is a “peck”? And when and where was it used as a type of measurement?

Okay first, what type of pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick? Yes, I said what type! You cannot pick pickled peppers because pickled peppers must first be picked to then be placed in brine to be pickled.

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So it should be said that Peter Piper selected pickled peppers.

That suggests the question, so then what pickled peppers did Peter Piper select? Well, that answer lies with Peter Piper himself or more accurately the answer lies in the surname Piper.

So when many people hear the name Piper they assume it has something to do with, well, pipes. But wait! In Middle English, the word piper has another meaning. A meaning very relevant to this question. PEPPER!

That’s right in Latin, and Middle English the word for pepper is piper!

So now we can safely assume that Peter Piper is English or at the very least known to the English people.

The Peter Piper tongue twister was first published around 1813. At that time peppers like jalapenos and such weren’t really available in England. But what was available were PEPPERCORNS!


That’s right! Thanks to the Dutch East India Company and the English East India Company, peppercorns from Southeast Asia would have been brought to England, albeit at a high price. Peppercorns were a valuable trade good in the 1800’s.In fact, one of the spices that Christopher Columbus left in search of was pepper. So if Peter Piper was picking a peck of pepper then he must have been rather affluent or working for a very powerful trading company.

Peter Piper might have been the 1800’s equivalent to a New York stock trader.


Now we know that Peter Piper was in England around the 1800’s picking a peck of pickled peppercorns. Or more specifically green peppercorns as they are the only variant of pepper that is traditionally picked.

All that remains is how many pickled green peppercorns did Peter Piper pick?

Well, according to Britannica.com a peck is;

Peck, unit of capacity in the U.S. Customary and the British Imperial Systems of measurement. In the United States the peck is used only for dry measure and is equal to 8 dry quarts, or 537.6 cubic inches (8.810 litres). In Great Britain the peck may be used for either liquid or dry measure and is equal to 8 imperial quarts (2 imperial gallons), or one-fourth imperial bushel, or 554.84 cubic inches (9.092 litres). The peck has been in use since the early 14th century, when it was introduced as a measure for flour. The term referred to varying quantities, however, until the modern units were defined in the 19th century.

With this knowledge we can apply the found origins of Mr. Piper to determine that we are using Great Britain’s definition of peck, being 9.092 liters or just a hair under 2 and 1/2 gallons (I rounded out to make the maths easier).

Ah but, unfortunately, a peck is a measurement of volume and pickled green peppercorns are usually stored in their brine, so more math is needed to find the weight of the peppercorns themselves…yay?

Thanks to the product information I found on zarasdeli.com about their Moulin Madagascar green peppercorns, we can calculate (Yes, it took forever!) that a peck of drained pickled green peppercorns has a weight of…

6.012 lbs!!

Now let’s try this again;

Peter Piper in England around the 1800’s at behest of the East India Trading Co., selected 9.092 liters of pickled green peppercorns. How many pickled green peppercorns did Peter Piper pick?

….I can’t actually tell you…I know, I know. But unfortunately, no matter how deep into the interwebs I looked (did you know there was a green-peppercorns.com?), I couldn’t find how much a single pickled green peppercorn weighs (go figure). And I am not buying a jar of pickled green peppercorns to find out.


If I did though, it wouldn’t be that hard to find out. Just divide 2727.28 g (the drained weight of a peck of peppercorns) by the weight of a single pickled green peppercorn and voila! A vague estimation of how many individual peppercorns Peter Piper picked.

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I hope you enjoyed your time because that would make one of us. I hope I never have to type Peter, piper, pepper, peppercorns, or peck that many times ever again.