Attack!

It is my sincere belief that, when done right, the pretzel is the single greatest snack on earth.  A really well made pretzel is just head and shoulders above its snacking brethren.  Even run-of-the-mill pretzels are da bomb.  They have potential that no chip, no cracker, no other snack has.  Everyone who thinks otherwise is wrong.

Note:  I am excluding cookies as snacks.  Cookies are a dessert.  If we were to include cookies, that would change the calculus, and risk some sort of all-out “sweet vs salty” war.  Also, too many cookies leave me feeling sick.  That is never the case with pretzels.  And cookies are best enjoyed with milk.  You can’t stick a bottle of milk in your bag to utilize with the cookies you munch on through the day.  Thus, pretzels take it.

Thoughts?

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54 thoughts on “Attack!

  1. I agree. Not greasy like chips but will all salty goodness.

    I like the soft ones and the hard ones.

    I will say that salted nuts-almonds or mixed nut or peanuts are also very good.

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    • Nuts are fantastic, and healthy to boot. However, I have a low ceiling before I hit my nut limit. I’m rarely in the mood for nuts in the way I get into the mood for pretzels. And mixed nuts? Too much chance involved.

      I do enjoy peanuts roasted in the shells and sunflower seeds, but there are so few occasions where those are appropriate to eat, that it is hard to make much of a case for them.

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      • Can’t get enough of boiled peanuts. :)

        And roasted and salted pumkin seeds. Papitas in spanish if i got that right. Moms sent those to me from south of the border once. outstanding.

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      • The boiled peanut is not for me. Ran across a bad boiled peanut once and now have a horror of them. This is very sad, for once I loved them. Likewise, the Twizzler. In a fit of nervous eating, driving back from Louisville to Chicago, I hate too many in one session and now can’t abide ’em.

        But the pumpkin seed is a wonderful thing. Come Halloween, I’d scrape out my kids’ pumpkins, rinse off the seeds and roast them with a little salt and butter. I am a devotee of the squash in all its forms, going down both the sweet and savoury routes with them. They are all American.

        Papitas are just potato chips. Pepitas are pumpkin seeds.

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      • Doritos, I find, have a one-chip horizon between “each one being better than the last” to “I wish these were never invented.” And it is impossible to predict.

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      • Doritos needs to drop the pretense that they are tortilla chips. They ain’t. When I see people dipping Doritos into salsa, I’m tempted to say, “You’re doing everything wrong.”

        Also, every time I buy a bag, it is Nachoier Cheesiererester. What was wrong with the way they were back in the 90’s? They had the perfect ratio of fake cheese to fake chip. Now it’s all fake cheese. Calm down, Doritos. We’ve all got plenty of fake cheese in our lives.

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      • See, I have the opposite problem with Doritos. I will limit my discussion to Cool Ranch, since these are objectively the best of the lot.

        I WANT the maximum amount of flavored chemical powder on the chips. But I am convinced that Doritos is deliberately under-coating 95% of the chips, then over-coating 5% of them.

        What happens when you get one of the totally drenched ones is, your brain’s pleasure centers light up, like you just got a hit of snack-crack.

        Then, you keep eating more chips in hopes of getting more with the correct Dorito-dust-to-chip ratio….but the other chips are unsatisfying – they don’t have enough flavor – so you keep eating, until BAM! You find another one.

        Rinse and repeat.

        Every once in a while you’ll get a bag where the whole bag is totally over-seasoned (that is, CORRECTLY seasoned), and it’s both glorious, and completely diabolical – since it means you will buy another bag in future hoping for a repeat, and will invariably be disappointed.

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      • ” It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the dust of Doritos that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, stains become a warning. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.”

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      • I don’t doubt it. I get the same impression from a lot of mass-produced foods, including some fast food places. Every once in a while you get something that is basically the same as a dopamine injection straight into your mesolimbic pathway, and you immediately come back for more, but are disappointed, which leads you to come back again. It’s diabolical.

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      • COOL RANCH MUST FLOW

        boop-boop-boop-beep-beep-de-doop-de-doop

        You know, you probably could make a not-terrible sci-fi/horror story around hackers/gamers addicted to some Spice-like snack chip/drug. Calling John Carpenter (or maybe Ken Russell or Cronenberg)!

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      • They did change the formula for both the nacho cheese and the cool ranch. I preferred the old ones.

        I rarely eat them, but I recognize the Universal Rule that any nutritional errors you commit on a road trip don’t count against you, and have a small bag on a long drive.

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    • I love hard chocolate-covered pretzels. Its the perfect mix of salt and sweet. My opinion is that the best snacks and deserts are the ones that masterfully combine saltiness and sweetness.

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      • What is interesting about that combination is that dark chocolate, in many applications, is the salty component. But because the salt of the pretzels is much greater, it brings out the sweetness in the chocolate.

        When I cook with my students, I always make a point to emphasize the importance of salt in even the sweetest of recipes. As I say, “A little bit of salt doesn’t make things saltier, it makes their taste stronger. Chocolate gets chocolatier when we add a bit of salt.” They’ve since declared that salt makes cookies cookie-er, one of my more favorite sayings they’ve come up with.

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      • Cocoa goes down the savoury route, too. When the Spanish first encountered chocolate, it was being drunk hot, with spicy peppers, as it is still consumed in southern Mexico and Guatemala. It’s a Nahuatl word, xocolaatl, from xococ, which still means bitter in two or three Maya dialects. Moctezuma the Aztec emperor was drinking a dozen cups a day of the stuff.

        These days, you’ll find people down there roasting up cacao with chiles, cinnamon and allspice, making little balls of the paste, then using it to season all sorts of meat, such as turkeys and chickens. You have a little grater, the ball and grater are passed around and everyone seasons his meat accordingly.

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      • Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode about chocolate was the best of a very good series. When you consider how labor intensive it is to harvest and prepare cocoa by hand, you get a sense of the wealth and power of those Aztec emperors who consumed dozens of cups of the stuff a day.

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  2. Are we talkin’ those big, giant pretzels that people put mustard and stuff on, or are we talking regular ol’ pretzels in a bag? If it’s the former, I can see that, even if I disagree (that’s more of a thing for y’all folk up there north of the Mason-Dixon line). If it’s the latter, you crazy.

    Also, cookies are a dessert, a snack, a lunch food, breakfast, and anything else cookies want to be.

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  3. Bah, trail mix is the best snack. peanuts, almonds, cashews, added with raisins and M&Ms….. nothing is better than that salty sweet mix.

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  4. Pretzels are indeed da bomb. I buy them in boxes, and eat ’em the whole day long.
    You haven’t had a real soft pretzel until you get one straight from the factory line.

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  5. Don’t get me wrong, I do love me the pretzel in both its crunchy and chewy incarnations. And tortilla chips, both real and in their bastardized Dorito mutations, are also delicious and salty and fatty and deeply pleasurable, and post facto, ruinous of one’s self-esteem.

    But I’m going to have to give the nod to French fries. Thick cut, hot out of the fryer, with the big hunks of coarse salt. As I eschew tomato ketchup as too sweet and pungent, I prefer the fattiness of a garlic aioli or a Cajun-spiced mayonnaise as condiment to these sticks of starchy potato bliss.

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  6. I think that “snack” food has two meanings: there is food to snack on, and food to have for a snack. There is no better food to have for a snack than cold barbecued chicken. I’m not sure where ramen falls on this system – it’s more formal than snacking food, but it doesn’t quite rate as a full-fledged snack. A good ramen (not the ones in stryofoam that taste like, well, styrofoam) is one of the best late-night snacks.

    That’s something I hadn’t considered – there’s a difference between good afternoon snacks and good late-night snacks. For example, a brownie with nuts is fine for the afternoon, but after 8pm it would have to be nutless.

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    • They’re nutritional

      Fish that, then.

      As we (kinda) speak, I’m snacking on pumpkin bread I made from a Trader Joe’s mix. It’s good, a lot lighter than their banana bread, though I make that richer by mixing in a banana.

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  7. Thoughts? Assuming you’re not talking about those cheap-ass in pretzels sold in the potato chip aisle, and that you mean the hefty, salty, satisfying soft pretzels even those places in the mall can’t screw up (too badly), I’d say this is the most genius freaking thing you’ve ever written!

    (Hyperbole switch now turned to “off”)

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    • Well, the Herr’s and Rold Gold’s of the world? Bleh. Snyder’s makes a decent ‘zel. But Newman’s Own makes a variety of good ones and Unique’s Splits line is great; these two you usually have to go to a speciality grocer.

      But, yea, soft pretzels? Mmmmm. Pretzels buns and rolls, sometimes called “Breadzels” are delectable. My only objection to these types are when they go for sweet… Save the cinnamon for the churros and the greasy butter for popcorn. That typically only happens at the Wetzel’s of the world, the aforementioned mall stands.

      And I will say that, despite having never seen you ’round these parts, your high praise here means the world. If anything brings us world peace, it’s the pretzels.

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  8. I don’t know about other cities but soft pretzels, especially being used as buns for all sorts of sandwiches, are blowing up in Louisville. It’s one of the best food trends I’ve seen in quite some time.

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    • I’ve seen it here and there. Wendy’s has a new burger out that does that. It is indeed great. I believe a local bagel store has created a pretzel bagel, which is borderline sacriligious in NY… But, well, pretzel bagels are basically perfect.

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