A question that I get from time-to-time is when I developed my love for pretzels. The answer to that question dates back to my childhood upbringing in central Pennsylvania, the world epicenter of pretzels. Pretzels were everywhere! We had them at home. We had them at school. We had them at every family gathering and party. They were ubiquitous. It was only when I went away to college that I began to realize that pretzels were not so well known elsewhere as they were back home. In college my care packages of our favorite brand of pretzels would be treated like a delicacy from a far off land by my non-Pennsylvania friends.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, it seems that every family had their own particular brand or type that they favored. There were literally dozens and dozens of independent pretzel bakeries, each offering their own shapes, recipes and varieties. Once you were smitten with a particular brand/type of local pretzel, it was pretty much a life long commitment that many of my friends and family hold to even today. Ironically, because of these lifelong preferences, central Pennsylvania is one of the toughest markets for us to sell Pretzel Pete. My offers of Pretzel Pete to even my closest friends are often just met with a disdainful sniff. Why would they ever consider eating a different pretzel when they have been eating pretzel XYZ all of their life? As a long-time local, I get it. I too have an affinity to the same traditional type of pretzel that my mom was sending to me at college.
Regardless of any particular bias, pretzels to me remain an almost perfect snack food. They are delicious on their own. They are delicious when flavored/seasoned. They are delicious soft or hard. They are delicious to spread things on or dipped into things. They are delicious sweet and they are delicious salty.
This Friday, April 26th, is National Pretzel Day. All hail the humble Pretzel!