Of all the ceremonial foods Birth Day Cake, Halloween Candy, New Years black eyed peas, the least ceremonious of foods could be the lowly pretzel. To elevate the status of the crunchy knot I would propose that it should be the official gift-snack of Fathers Day.
Pretzel mythology dates back to 610 AD when an alleged clergy invented snack food to resemble crossed arms praying. The writing of snack food history didn’t start with Bechtell. Pretzels pre-date ancient Rome. Egyptians worshiped pretzels and mummies were postured in the cross armed form of a pretzel. Cave man children were given pretzel sticks to resemble clubs to crack over each others heads.
Nothing says Dad like pretzels.
My dad took me on a tour of Snyder’s of Hanover`s pretzel factory. I was about eight. We walked on an elevated floor with Plexiglas panels sealed from the sound and dust of the bakery. The dough extruded from tubes in a clock work pattern producing 30 pretzels at a time. The pretzels were squeezed onto a conveyor that resembled a giant bagel toaster. Water atomized over them and salt rained down before they went between the glowing coils to cook. Hot pretzels slid down a slide onto another conveyor dragging them up over our heads to the other side of the plant. Woman in blue smocks and paper hats attended the packaging machines. Inserting a fresh roll of bags. Taping a box shut.
My Dad and I got the freshest bag of pretzels in the world from the factory store. We walked across the parking lot to the pick-up truck. Dad pulled a tiny cooler from under the seat and produced a bottle of beer and an orange juice for me. I tugged at the bag to open it but it was too tightly sealed for my little hands. Dad ripped it open and handed it to me to take the first pretzel. The smell of pretzels is dry baked with a hint of pee. Holding it up I observed the knot and the nub of a tail. I took the nub in my teeth, “crunch, yum” pretzels.
By Paul Da Plummer