the Bucky Four-Eyes Cotillion

Monday, January 15, 2007

Pretzel logic

Some things never change: The moon rules the tides. The Detroit Lions disappoint their fans. Cars with Grateful Dead bumper stickers get searched by the cops. I love pretzels.

Pretzel-fanged monster

When I use the word "love" here, I do not take it lightly. This is not some meaningless fling that I'll vehemently deny when the tabloids come a-callin' - no, this is long-term commitment, the real deal, a solid relationship that would surely result in marriage if only the closed-minded voters in this country would stop its perpetual illegality. I've been enamored of pretzels since I had teeth. There's no telling where I got my first fix, but once I had a taste of that crunchy, salty stick, it was on.

Some of my earliest, fondest memories are of being taken to the movies by Squirl when I was a preschooler. She claims it was a way for her to see Disney cartoons without ridicule from her peers, but I suspect that she was actually a nice big sister and just doesn't want to admit it, for fear that I'll smell weakness and hit her up for cash. We'd go to the Grand theater, one o' those ornate, old-style, pre-multiplex movie houses with fancy scrollwork, chandeliers, and one screen. Of course, concession stand prices were just as comparatively outrageous then as they are now, so in order to save a wad of cash, Mom would send snacks along in Squirl's purse. I don't know what Squirl had for herself, but I always had the same thing: a bottle of Jell-O water and a bag of stick pretzels. Every time. Jungle Book without my pretzels? Ha! Are you mad? You might as well ask for Tarzan without his bag of Cheetas. Or...something.

When I got to be a little older, I was - and I'm saying this politely - a persnickety eater. By that, I mean I was a snot who wouldn't eat anything that anyone made for me. There were a few years there where I more or less survived on a diet of lemon drops and pretzels. Luckily, I still had ample reserves of baby fat, so starvation was not a likely scenario. Even my taste in pretzels had gained a persnicketiness by then, and I would only eat one kind: Mister Salty Veri-Thin Pretzel Sticks.

My first boyfriend. I dreamed of being Mrs. Salty.

My poor parents, desperate to see me eat something, anything, would buy me several boxes of these fuckers at a time. It was not at all uncommon for me to go through four boxes a week of Mister Salty's finest. The space under my bed was known as The Pretzel Box Graveyard, because when I'd eat the last of the pretzels in my room (as I often did), instead of walking the box downstairs and throwing it away like a normal person, I'd just shove the empties under my bed. (I may still be a slob, but at least I don't do that anymore!) I had a ritual for the way I would eat the pretzels - the little sticks had to be bitten into eight pieces of somewhat similar size, and swallowed without any further chewing (eating the salt off first was optional). Once I hit my growth spurt, where I suddenly got obscenely tall and all the baby fat disappeared, it was often suggested to me that I was actually turning into one of the "veri-thin" pretzels. Luckily, no one ever bit me into eight equal-sized pieces.

I don't know exactly when I made the change, but at some point, I began to prefer the curlicue-shaped pretzels (I have no idea what that shape is actually called) instead of the tiny stick pretzels. Today, that is still my preference. Mister Salty pretzels became increasingly harder to find, so I've bounced from brand to brand over the years. For a while, my pretzel of choice was the Made-Rite/Better-Made brand, but since I've moved to Illinois, that is not an option. However, I've found that Jay's Pretzel Thins fit the bill, and I happily eat those on a daily basis. If the store only has the stick pretzels or the little round ones, or curlicue pretzels of the non-Jay's variety, I will snort with indignation and leave the premises pretzel-less. I am no less persnickety now than I was when I was ten years old. I'm eating Jay's Pretzel Thins as I write this - don't try to feign shock; it doesn't look natural on you. There is always a bag of these on my desk, next to the computer monitor (often next to a bag of Reese's Pieces).

Just because I've changed pretzel shape and brand, though, does not mean that I've given up my sense of ritual. On the contrary, I have an even more elaborate scheme for how these pretzels should be eaten in order to appreciate their subtle beauty.

Behold my weird obsession:

Proper pretzel dismemberment

If this doesn't convince you that I need some kind of psychotherapy...then you and I should eat pretzels together sometime!

19 of you felt the overwhelming need to say somethin':

Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

Rold Gold be my early morning snack at work. And also my pre- and post-lunch snack. Also I tend to have a pre-bed snack o' Rold Gold as well.

All hail a good pretzel!!

10:40 PM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Madame D said...

I love me some pretzels. Love.
I eat mine like you do yours, except I eat the outside curve before the inside curve. Every time. And I have to eat any partial pretzels before I eat the whole ones.

10:59 PM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger PlazaJen said...

OK, I am a pretzel freak. And what does it mean that my second thought was, "Dude! She's referencing Steely Dan!"

I used to suck all the salt off the sticks first, it was my own personal rule before they could be eaten. And costco now sells this tub of pretzel squares that are the lightest, most delightful pretzel a girl could ever imagine in her mouth. Why does all this sound vaguely naughty?

11:16 PM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

Mr. B - toasting you with a pretzel right now. *clink*

Madame D - I just found a partial pretzel and thought of you. Is that weird?

PlazaJen - I LOVE Steely Dan. And pretzels are inherently sexual objects. Just make sure you suck off the salt before any penetration occurs.

Trust me on this.

Hellokittn - mmmmmm, honey dijon... *drool*

JDR - you mean you don't eat them upside down in Australia? ;)

1:30 AM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

I started eating the Wal-Mart GV brand pretzel at one point. For some reason I think I met my saturation point. Now when I eat those, I feel like I'm going to get sick. I never have, but I switched back to the good old RG's.

I'll do a return *clink* in a couple of hours when I'm in my Near Post Coffee Phase. (I hate it that life is so complicated like that, but it is.)

7:05 AM, January 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe it's referred to as 'pretzel shaped'. Just in case you were wondering.

I'm a similarly odd eater when it comes to those Peek Freans jelly centred cookies. You know, the one with the window in the top to show the sugar covered jelly?


9:22 AM, January 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't help but comment, first time for me here, but due to the strong force of the subject, I am compelled.

Hear me father for I too lust after the brown bakery with shiny salty pieces that seem to crumble into my keyboard. I have changed from sticks (early years) to the Mr. Salty and hey does anyone remember the home delivery guys Charles Chips that used to bring them in a can? Yea, that started the sourdough express I have been on for years and well, years. Currently my preferred brand is Synders of Hanover, big fat sourdough, so crunch you could possibly break a tooth. the best is the warm kind from a street vendor...does it could as a meal?

9:29 AM, January 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Cristina, from Milan, Italy. It's a foggy day, your pretzels story made me laugh. Come and read something, there're some comments in English. Bye

10:13 AM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Squirl said...

I remember your eating pretzels and Spam. But you didn't eat Spam at the movie theater.

10:25 AM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Susie said...

I saw the diagram before the post, so I refer you to my comment there.
And Hemlock beat me to it, with the info tidbit: the word you were looking for is PRETZEL-SHAPED. heheee

Do you like those big chewy things that you buy on the street (talking about pretzels now)? I don't think they should be called pretzels, personally. I think a pretzel should crunch.

10:26 AM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

Mr. B - an inferior pretzel will have that effect. Good to stick with the primo stuff.

Hemlock - you mean there's a shape named after the pretzel? Well, that should make old Mister Salty proud. Can't say I'm familiar with these cookies of which you speak, though...

Pretzella - oh, that DEFINITELY counts as a meal. I love this solidarity amongst the pretzel obsessed!

Cristina - welcome! I'm glad to see that the pretzel has a universal appeal.

Squirl - ah, yes, Spam. I imagine it was a blessing for Mom and Dad, what with five kids to feed. Of course, the thought of Spam now makes me gag a little.

Susie - I'm not sure I count those as pretzels, either. I never used to like them, but recently I've found that I enjoy the ones you can buy and microwave, and then dip in cheese. Yum...

3:37 PM, January 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the helpfull support to eat better pretzels ;o)

i like it too ;o)

4:07 PM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Kranki said...

I ate tonnes of pretzels when going through chemo. They were often the only thing I could stomach and if I could stand them then I could start to eat other things on my way back to regular eating. They were little lifesavers.

I also like those warm large bread type pretzels one can get at street venders. Especially with yellow mustard. Except that I don't see them any more.

8:03 PM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I loves me some pretzels. Cheers!

11:28 PM, January 16, 2007  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

Bibberle - it's just my little service to humanity. ;)

Kranki - See? I KNEW pretzels were magical!

CKelli - When we go out for lunch, I'll make sure to smuggle in some pretzels.

11:48 PM, January 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes, the pretzels that come 6 to a box in the freezer aisle! Those and a can of cheeze whiz? Heaven.

12:04 AM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Name the day baby I'm there!

1:51 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger Maven said...

As a child, I was always ticked that my Mr. Saltys didn't look like MR SALTY.

12:20 AM, January 21, 2007  
Blogger Ray said...

i eat pretzels the same way :O

12:27 AM, June 23, 2009  

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