I had a craving for a Pennsylvania Dutch pretzel. My first one was in 1971, when my family visited Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Though I loved the horse and buggies, lush green scenery, hex signs, and the live auction we attended, the pretzel won my heart. It was love at first crunch. Larger, thicker, harder than any other pretzel I had had, with just the right amount of salt to flavor it.
After that first trip, I didn’t return until 1991, when I went with a college friend living in the area. Then in 2010 with my partner. I was averaging every 19-20 years for a pretzel. My craving announced itself in August 2022; could I wait until 2030?
Doubtful. It was all I could think about. I needed a pretzel fast. The problem was that though my area has nearly every kind of food I could ever wish to try, it didn’t have my favorite pretzel. Also, when I looked online though I did find places that offered to ship Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels, I would have to spend a lot to get a lot. All I wanted was one. Just one. Just in case the one I tried was too salty and didn’t match my memory of it.
But since my craving wouldn’t go away, I took action. I went to my local grocery store. There, I saw Snyder’s of Hanover on the shelf. Though the name Hanover had validity, I felt a little suspicious, since the back panel said it was distributed from North Carolina. I felt torn between Olde Tyme and sourdough hard pretzels. The Olde Tyme seemed to market itself with an old time flavor, but the hard pretzels looked more like the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch pretzel. Eeny meeny miny mo. I chose Old Tyme and vowed to try the other kind next.
Except the Olde Tyme was way too salty, not hard, thick, or crunchy enough. I thought, Yuck, re: Snyder’s, and didn’t want to try their hard pretzels.
Next I considered another grocery’s pretzel offerings, which had what looked like a comparable kind of hard pretzel with healthy ingredients, made by Unique Pretzels. Could it be like Pennsylvania Dutch? I didn’t buy it right away. I spent a long time making up my mind about whether to get it because what if it, too, was not right? Finally, I decided okay; by that time, the store had sold out of the healthy kind and only had Extra Dark: Boldly Charred. It had a disgusting taste, much like when a certain someone burns her cooking. Only this company had decided to profit from it.
After that, I was unsure what to do. I really wanted to try the Pennsylvania Dutch pretzel bakeries, but not get many pretzels. My partner in crime suggested I ask if I could get just one. So I did. First I called Martin’s in Lancaster County and spoke with a very nice woman about my craving and the history behind it. She said for the price of shipping she would send a couple of their Original Regular pretzel. I received four the next week. The taste was perfect, and it matched my memory of it. Hard, crunchy, with the right amount of salt. This hand-twisted pretzel made me super happy. Next I contacted Uncle Henry’s, and a man said he’d send a complimentary package of their Original Regular pretzel bits. Also very good and twisty, but a tad too salty.
I had surpassed my one pretzel limit, and was feeling, okay I can wait another 20 years, when a small voice in me said, in all fairness, you should try Snyder’s hard sourdough pretzel. I noted that the kind in the bag had less sodium than in the box. Definitely harder than any of the pretzels, with a good sourdough flavor, but hard to believe, I wanted a little more salt to flavor it.
Thus concludes the twists and turns of my pretzel-tasting adventure!