There’s a cure for everything and it’s about 2 inches wide, freckled with salt and twisted into a imperfect knot. Call me crazy, but a handful of pretzels will fix any and every problem. Stomach ache? A bag of pretzels is the first place I look for comfort. Headache? Pretzels. Going on a road trip? I won’t leave the house without my Ziplock bag full of pretzels.
My dad eats a handful of pretzels right before he goes to bed every night. It’s part of his routine. So much so that my mom bought an extra cookie jar used specifically and only for mine and my dads favorite pretzels, the kind that come in the clear bag with the yellow label. They have just enough salt and the prefect amount of crunch. If some are slightly burned around the edges, that’s even better. Now, when I return home for winter break or summer vacation that cookie jar filled to the top with pretzels in preparation of my homecoming, is my favorite sight to see. Home sweet (or salty) home.
It’s no mistake then that I landed in Philadelphia, home of the soft pretzel. You have to understand my only encounters with soft pretzels prior to moving to Philadelphia came from the frozen aisle of the grocery store or the snack shack at the baseball field. I had never craved a soft pretzel nor had I ever particularly enjoyed their doughy, sometimes soggy texture. This, as I later found out, was mainly because I had never tasted a just baked, soft pretzel, warm out of the oven made in the City of Brotherly Love.
My first Philadelphia pretzel experience came from Wawa during one of my very first visits to St. Joe’s. To this day, Wawa’s soft pretzels are by far my favorite, especially if it’s after 10:30pm when the freshest batch gets delivered to the closest Wawa, still soft and warm from the bakery (I like to think so anyway). My boyfriend, a Philadelphia native, thinks I’m crazy. In his eyes, Wawa’s pretzels are at the bottom of the food chain.
My next few encounters with Philadelphia soft pretzels happened during just about every single event, program, info session, lunch period, etc. during my first year at St. Joseph’s. Around every corner, on top every table sat a huge box of soft pretzels from the Philadelphia Pretzel Factory. They were free, they were salty, and they were seemingly endless. It didn’t get much better than that. I thought college was the greatest place on earth.
And so, my love for pretzels grew. I’ve scoured the city for the best of the best and I’ve come up with quite a few soft contenders but none that beat the original. The kind that comes in the clear bag with the yellow label. The kind that fills the cookie jar in the kitchen. The kind that sometimes spills from my sweatshirt pockets. My favorite kind. The one that solves any problem and gives my dad that familiar pretzel-breath when he comes in each night to say goodnight. I love you, pretzels.