445: Soft Pretzels

Molly 0:04

I am Molly.

Matthew Amster-Burton 0:05

And I'm Matthew

Molly 0:06

and this is spilled milk, the show where we just eat a bunch of stuff, record ourselves talking and then you can have anything really as much as we can.

Matthew Amster-Burton 0:16

So I know we've had this slogan for a long time and it's probably time to think about renewing refreshing the slogan, but I gotta tell you, I did I set out to workshop, your your rework a little bit. Okay,

Molly 0:29

well, I wanted to say that even though this episode is going to be airing in early July, you know, we're taping this in mid late June, we're still taping remotely planned to be for the foreseeable future. So Matt, I mean, I think it's time to loop the listener in anything that we can have they can have because if we can have it It means we're having it in our in our separate houses and separate closets and anybody anywhere can have it. Let's take the inclusive row

Matthew Amster-Burton 0:56

open our closets, to the listener to just stream in unencumbered and eat whatever we're eating at any time. Can I

Molly 1:06

think it? Can I think that

Matthew Amster-Burton 1:08

there's like 17 people like it behind you reaching for your pretzel and not not a euphemism?

Molly 1:14

Okay. All right. So yeah, this is spilled milk the show we cook something delicious. Eat it all and you can't have any we're still using the same slogan.

Matthew Amster-Burton 1:21

Alright, okay. And today we're talking about soft pretzels.

Molly 1:24

We lost track of which listener or I don't know maybe family member or something suggested this episode, but thank you, whoever you I

Matthew Amster-Burton 1:32

think it was all the listeners. I think they all they all banded together

Unknown Speaker 1:35

all the ones who were in a closet with me. Exactly. It

Matthew Amster-Burton 1:38

was the all the listeners who broke into Molly's closet. They had a little salon where they like a Sharad and they discussed like what what would be the ultimate spilled milk topic and the answer popped out soft pretzels. I'm not sure why it popped out.

Molly 1:53

Wow. Maybe the pocket of my bathrobe back here.

Matthew Amster-Burton 1:57

Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Molly 1:58

Okay, so Matthew, let's let's start out with your trip down memory lane.

Matthew Amster-Burton 2:03

Okay, I definitely enjoyed soft pretzels growing up. I don't remember like, where I would get them particularly though it seems like they might be like a state fair county fair kind of food. Like we didn't really have like many street vendors growing up in Portland. Although there were a few here and there. You know, you know where we get I definitely had a soft pretzel mount Angel Oktoberfest. It's all coming back to me now, which is an annual celebration in September in suburban Portland, where there's in a town where there's a German community. They have a big touristy Oktoberfest with lots of food stands, and I'm sure soft pretzels were a big part of that. I mainly remember the sour Broughton. Hmm,

Molly 2:43

this all sounds great.

Matthew Amster-Burton 2:45

Yeah, it was great. Wait, what? sauerbraten sauerbraten is a is a braised beef with vinegar dish. It's a German dish. Very tasty,

Molly 2:52

huh. That sounds great cut. I don't think I would have touched that as a kid though. I'm impressed. Like, I

Matthew Amster-Burton 2:57

don't think it was like described to me in great detail was just like some meat. Okay, you got from a meat person? Yeah, that's where I like to get my meat from the meat person.

Molly 3:07

It's interesting that you mentioned you know, you didn't think there were many street vendors in Portland. The idea of a street vendor in Oklahoma City. In my childhood, I can't even fathom it because people didn't you didn't walk down the street in Oklahoma City like there was there was no downtown area until the brick town revival. You've been brick town

Matthew Amster-Burton 3:29

man to

Molly 3:31

our corporate retreat. But anyway, there was like no place where I can imagine a street vendor setting up like it was a land of strip malls and suburbs. So I think that I had to leave my hometown to to learn the ways of the world. The ways of the soft pretzel. Sure. I remember going to visit my mom's twin sister in San Francisco. And I think it was in San Francisco that I first encountered a soft pretzel.

Matthew Amster-Burton 4:01

Oh, that makes a lot of sense. Yeah.

Molly 4:02

But I don't think of street vendors as being a San Francisco thing. Yeah. But I mean, maybe it was like it ghiradelli square or something like that, you know, like that's or like Fisherman's Wharf? That seems like the kind of place where, you know, you'd have like a street fair street vendor food, maybe? Yeah,

Matthew Amster-Burton 4:20

I mean, I don't know like exactly where you encounter this off principle, but like, just the sheer metaphor of having to like leave the stifling confines of Oklahoma City to go to San Francisco like world capital of the sexual revolution to get your hands on a steaming soft pretzel. Yeah, really evocative?

Molly 4:37

It is now that I think about it. We may have also been in New York.

Matthew Amster-Burton 4:43

Don't water down this story.

Molly 4:46

Anyway, but I remember my parents introducing me to soft pretzels with no small amount of pride because it was like fun and exciting food that was delicious. And I remember the soft pretzel of coming with a lot of that pretzel salt on it. And I remember my mom brushing some of the pretzel salt off with her

Matthew Amster-Burton 5:07

finger. Yeah, that makes sense.

Molly 5:09

Yeah. So yeah, I I don't remember as a kid seeing them like in convenience stores or sports stadiums. Maybe it's because I never went to sports.

Matthew Amster-Burton 5:21

Like how many sports stadium were you hanging out

Molly 5:25

at the roller skating rink like the concession stand there maybe they had some but you know, what are the churros there?

Matthew Amster-Burton 5:31

Yeah, no that that definitely like like skating rink concession stand food like definitely includes like churros hotdogs soft pretzels. Yes, like elongated things, elongated junk foods.

Molly 5:43

But I would have I would have never thought to get a soft pretzel there at the grocery store. I mean,

Matthew Amster-Burton 5:51

did you skate through the grocery store? Were you like rollerblading through person market?

Molly 5:58

You know what we what I remembered like last week and what we looked up online and showed to June Do you remember the Supermarket Sweep? I think it's the only game show I've ever truly enjoyed. I'm sorry to say that I know you are a Jeopardy contestant and so was Watson.

Matthew Amster-Burton 6:18

You hated watching us on Jeopardy.

Molly 6:20

I loved watching you guys on Jeopardy except for the anxiety. God I was so nervous for you. But no Supermarket Sweep. I fucking love that show.

Matthew Amster-Burton 6:29

It was hosted by Don Adams, right? I don't remember Inspector Gadget. Wait was Don Adams Inspector Gadget. He was right.

Molly 6:36

No, no. Yeah. Anyway. Oh my god, it was so delightful. Like, I just want to run through the grocery store like filling my cart with a high value items.

Matthew Amster-Burton 6:46

Yeah, I mean, and you can do that. It's just you have to pay for them.

Molly 6:50

Yeah. Anyway, but what I was going to say is that I don't think it ever occurred to me to order soft pretzels at the roller skating rink, because it just seemed like To me it was inextricably associated with street vendors. Like That was when you get your soft pretzels. Like when you're walking down the street.

Matthew Amster-Burton 7:08

Yeah, and maybe we're getting to this but like, when did it become like a quintessential mall food was that later? I don't remember that. As as a kid. There wasn't like wetzels pretzels or at hands yet? Yeah, no. 80s

Molly 7:20

and I'm gonna spoiler alert. I didn't look up the corporate history of an t Auntie Anne's, your

Matthew Amster-Burton 7:28

corporate historian.

Molly 7:29

I know and now I'm realizing that I really messed up. Anyway, I have a little bit of trouble even remembering whether it's Auntie Anne's or aunt Annie's

Matthew Amster-Burton 7:40

that makes sense. It is Auntie Anne's

Molly 7:42

okay, but I didn't I didn't look it up. So so this is you're gonna have to go somewhere else to get that knowledge.

Matthew Amster-Burton 7:48

No, you're not because I have the I have the scoop right here. And he ads was established February 2 1988 in downingtown, Pennsylvania and wetzels pretzels was established 1994 Redondo Beach California. Okay, I think I went to Redondo Beach California in 1994. Huh. Story huh?

Unknown Speaker 8:06

That's a really good story. Anyway, so hold on I took another bite God so so in

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:11

other words, I can confirm like like the the mall pretzel chain was not yet a thing when when we were kids.

Molly 8:17

Matthew, you and I lived in an era when soft pretzels were still pure and special?

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:23

Yes. When you could only get them from a from a street vendor with probably very dirty fingers. Yes. Which is special.

Molly 8:31

It is special. Isn't that the name of the the old Rolling Stones album dirty fingers

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:35

very dirty fingers. And it was later released in like a deluxe edition is called very very dirty fingers.

Molly 8:45

Yeah, the album art for that just as a picture of like a dirty hand.

Matthew Amster-Burton 8:49

Right? Yeah. Some of your favorite Rolling Stones hits like extremely wild horses and

Molly 8:57

wild horses. Dead flowers dead dead flower water. The smell of the water that flowers have been in. Oh,

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:05

I thought you had like like flour and water like you used to make pretzels. Okay, more Rolling Stones pods. Let's get

Molly 9:11

dead flowers is on that album. Right? Oh,

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:13

I have no idea. Which songs are actually on sticky fingers. I was just

Molly 9:17

general. Versus first Really?

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:20

Oh my god if I was if I guess

Molly 9:22

let's look up the tracklist for sticky finger. Let's

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:24

look up the tracklist for sticky fingers and come up with one pun or exaggerated title for each one. And then we can move on.

Molly 9:32

Here we go. Okay, all right. Sticky Fingers.

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:36

Oh, that's a song. Okay,

Molly 9:37

we already got this album. dirty fingers never gets less. scandalous. Okay. Oh my god. This one starts with brown sugar. Let's just leave that one alone. Yeah, sway. How about sway over to the sink? Wash your hands.

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:54

Yeah, exactly. Sure.

Molly 9:56

Okay, wild horses. That's extremely, extremely wild horses.

Matthew Amster-Burton 9:59

Yeah, I'm I wasn't thinking or thinking more like just like how can we take this song title and make it more of what it is? Oh,

Molly 10:05

okay next song track four Can't you hear me knocking?

Matthew Amster-Burton 10:09

Like I've really been knocking for a long time and knocking very hard at surprised you can't hear me

Molly 10:17

track five you gotta move

Matthew Amster-Burton 10:19

you gotta move like to another country

Molly 10:23

all right then side to track one bitch

Matthew Amster-Burton 10:28


Molly 10:31

track two I got the blues

Matthew Amster-Burton 10:33

you can jump in on these anytime to you by the way I like seriously depressed

Molly 10:42

sister morphine

Matthew Amster-Burton 10:43

sister fentanyl

Molly 10:46

track for dead flowers. We're gonna call this the flowers are dead time to pour out the stinky flower water.

Matthew Amster-Burton 10:53

Yeah, I didn't know stinky flower water was a thing and now is it

Molly 10:57

Oh yeah, I mean, if you have some cut flowers in a vase the water that they were are in will start to smell so bad. It's like a particular kind of bad smell. Track five side to moonlight mile. Midnight lightyear.

Matthew Amster-Burton 11:13

Okay, okay, great. That was that was absolutely worth the 10 minute detour. Let's, let's what which album came after sickie.

Molly 11:24

Okay. All right. That's very, very dirty fingers.

Matthew Amster-Burton 11:28

very dirty things. So

Molly 11:28

okay, let's talk about pretzels. So here's the thing. I may not have done the corporate history of Auntie Anne's, but I pretty much did the history of pretzels for us because as it turns out, the history of pretzels is in soft pretzels, like, homemade came much later. So anyway, you know, it's pretty difficult to talk about soft pretzels without starting with pretzels generally and and here we go. Are you ready?

Matthew Amster-Burton 11:54

I am ready.

Molly 11:54

Alright, so just for anyone who has recently arrived here from outer space. a pretzel is a baked pastry made from a yeasted dough that's commonly shaped into a knot and the traditional shape is symmetrical so the ends of the long strip of dough are intertwine and then folded back onto itself in a particular way to make

Matthew Amster-Burton 12:15

yes and i was watching a video this morning of like professional pretzel bakers forming pretzels and it is fast. I was really impressed. Yes, that's cool. Okay, kind of pick it up in such a way that the ends like twizzle around each other and just like plop down into place it takes like a second.

Molly 12:32

I can't wait to hear your experience of it. So according to Wikipedia, there are quote, numerous unreliable accounts numerous unreliable. Oh, that doesn't surprise me at all. Every time we talk about the history of any food there's always some made up story. Yeah, regarding the pretzels origin as well as the origin of its name, so don't expect to get a definitive answer here. Most of the origin stories involve Christianity and European monks once again like the candy cane, which we did an episode on recently. It seems like the old the old pretzel started in church, the old

Matthew Amster-Burton 13:07

pretzels sounds like the name of a pub.

Molly 13:09

According to one legend in the six hundreds that six hundreds ad and Italian monk invented pretzels as a reward for children who learned their prayers.

Matthew Amster-Burton 13:19

Hey, kids, if you live your prayers, you get pretzels question. What are pretzels? Yeah, is it gonna hurt the

Molly 13:26

dough was folded to resemble arms crossing the chest. Just Yes, you look like a pretzel. I

Matthew Amster-Burton 13:31

just I just press hold

Molly 13:32

other origins stories take place in southern France or Germany. But most of all, I'm just fascinated by like, What is it with Christianity and like the food based reward systems, you know, like,

Matthew Amster-Burton 13:45

I guess like know, like what he wants to do. You know, you don't want to be a kid going to Sunday school and having to do stuff so so you need some sorts of sort of rewards and punishments to get the kids to comply.

Molly 13:56

That's true. And I guess that if the church was you know, that the center of life in these these times that would have sprung out of church traditions.

Matthew Amster-Burton 14:08

Yeah. And also like they didn't have many other things to offer besides foods at the time, like they couldn't give the kids like, you know, new animals for their Animal Crossing Island a thing that many people asked us to talk more about, by the way, so if you have any updates from June's Island, let's hear Um,

Molly 14:24

so yeah, so here's our Animal Crossing segment. So guys have been playing animal crossing a little bit more.

Matthew Amster-Burton 14:31

Oh, great.

Molly 14:32

I find it kind of frustrated so we only have one switch. Brandon bought a switch it goes back and forth between our houses like our child and I find it kind of frustrating that like June and I can't play together because we're both on the same switch.

Matthew Amster-Burton 14:45


Molly 14:46

Anyway, and so on this island. Yeah, like as discussed, I'm living on an island and animal crossing that belongs to my ex husband. I cannot get off this island. A parent right?

Matthew Amster-Burton 14:57

No matter no matter how many is the name of the Many illegal

Molly 15:00

proceedings I go through but here's the thing. So I figured out how to I've got a few DIY recipes in Animal Crossing. I figured out how to make my flimsy fishing rod and my flimsy net for catching bugs. So I caught my first fish last week. I said to June Oh God, I caught a striped bass or a black bass or whatever it is, like what do I What do I do with it now? And she was like, nothing. She was like, you can either. I was like, Can I cook it and eat it? And she was like, I don't think so she's like, you can either show it off. You click a button and you pull it out of your pocket in your hand kind of comes out and you show whoever you're near your raw fish in your pocket.

You put everything in your pocket and Okay, crossings, your bugs, shells, raw fish, entire tree branches. Okay,

Matthew Amster-Burton 15:51

sounds great. It's

Molly 15:51

great. Your pockets are so deep in Animal Crossing. Anyway.

Matthew Amster-Burton 15:57

Sorry, sorry. So I

Molly 15:58

caught this fish. And then I also caught it, tilapia, and then I made it. And I made a pun. My little person in Animal Crossing, said I caught it. tilapia. I'm so happy. Yeah. Oh,

Matthew Amster-Burton 16:10

wait, you can make your person say things.

Molly 16:12

That's what my person says automatically. Oh,

Matthew Amster-Burton 16:14

I think maybe you Molly made the pun. But your your little crossing avatar?

Molly 16:20

Yes. Okay. So anyway, so then what I did learn I could do, I could show it off. I could like throw it back. Or I could take it to residents services and I could try to sell it to get some knock MILES O bells or points or something. I can't I don't know what I'm earning.

Matthew Amster-Burton 16:38

I like nook miles. Whether or not that's part of the game. That's a

Molly 16:42

real thing. So anyway, I what I want is enough nook miles to have a house built because I'm still living in a tent.

Matthew Amster-Burton 16:49


Molly 16:51

Anyway, but I June has a house. She She will Yeah, have a second story built on her house. She told me she can have up to five stories. But I still just don't kind of understand the point. Like, I mean, I am the kind of person who does just get a lot of personal satisfaction from exploring this island and putting tree branches and shells in my pockets.

Matthew Amster-Burton 17:12

I can I can hear that the way you talk about it.

Molly 17:16

I like I get that I'm supposed to like meet up with other people. And we like swap flower seeds or something

Matthew Amster-Burton 17:23

very sexual.

Unknown Speaker 17:24

I don't know.

Molly 17:27

Whose Island I can visit or whatever. Like, I don't know what to do.

Matthew Amster-Burton 17:31

I've been I've been trying to listen to the rest of your update. But now I'm thinking we need to make like 10 more puns about like what you say when you catch other kinds of fish. Like I couldn't think of even one.

Molly 17:43

I caught the bass.

Matthew Amster-Burton 17:45

I caught a shark Hark. Yeah,

Molly 17:50

so that's my update with animal crossing. Okay. What is pretty fun though is Do you remember in Harry Potter book for it's the the one where they're doing the triwizard Cup. And Viktor Krum it kind of has the hots for her myeni to remember, but he can never say her name. So he always says things like Hermione knee and things like that. Right? So I named myself her mondini.

Matthew Amster-Burton 18:18

Okay. Anyway, okay, so back to the we go back to the church.

Molly 18:23

Oh, I wasn't done with animal crossing. Okay, so I just wonder, like, you know, for all of our listeners who love our Animal Crossing segments, I just wonder, like, what do I do now? I'm just walking around. And stuff like, what do I do now?

Matthew Amster-Burton 18:39

Like, can you have a tree branch in your pocket? Does it show it like sticking out of your pocket? No, that would be awesome.

Molly 18:45

It just disappears. Okay, it just disappears. The only other thing I want to say is that so far, one thing I have figured out that's pretty satisfying is I learned how to put myself into my sleeping bag and go to sleep.

Matthew Amster-Burton 18:58

Oh, wow. I barely I couldn't figure out when we went camping. I could not figure that out myself. I figured out how to get into the sleeping bag but going to sleep was a lot harder.

Molly 19:09

Yeah. So anyway, that was that was cool. So there's my Animal Crossing update. But let's go back to to the European monks in Christianity in the six hundreds

Matthew Amster-Burton 19:21

because here's what I was wondering about that. And this really fits neatly into your Animal Crossing update. Like it seems like the kids were constantly getting bombarded with food rewards at church. Yeah, and like you have to imagine they went to church a lot. So do you think the average kid at this time like in in Europe had like a burlap sack full of like shit they were given as as rewards for saying their prayers. Like as a bag full of candy canes and pretzels and Kaiser rolls. It

Molly 19:49

wasn't a bag though. It was their pockets. It was a fish in there and tree branches.

Matthew Amster-Burton 19:56

Oh yeah, they probably got the fish for Lent. Uh huh.

Molly 19:58

Yeah. Anyway, no, I think I think You're exactly right so the the pretzel

Matthew Amster-Burton 20:03

bugs are reward or punishment.

Molly 20:06

So the pretzel has been used as an emblem of bakers and bakers guilds in parts of Germany since least the 1100s Oh, that makes sense. And pretzels have been an integral part of German baking traditions for centuries lie pretzels, so pretzels that are that are centered, or washed in lie on truth are popular in southern Germany, Alsace, Australia, German speaking Switzerland, they show up as a variety of bread snack, obviously, this is all everything I'm about to say comes from Wikipedia. Like everything I say. It's interesting how like in America, we don't tend to think of pretzels as a side dish.

Matthew Amster-Burton 20:47

I don't think Yeah, just really like purely a snack. But there's no reason why they shouldn't be like, you know, dipped in a sauce while you're eating something, right.

Molly 20:57

I mean, I think that with the rise of like the craft brewer like the craft beer industry in the US, there are tons of breweries that serve sure pretzels with various like mustards or cheese dips or things so maybe it's becoming more familiar, but it still seems to be really like isolated to like gastro pubs and breweries. Okay. Anyway, so this is all from Wikipedia baked for consumption. On the same day. Soft pretzels are sold in every bakery, special booths and stands in downtown streets. This is in various parts of like German speaking Europe. Often they are sliced horizontally buttered and sold as butter bretzel or they come with slices of cold meats or cheese, sesame, Poppy, sunflower, pumpkin or caraway seeds, melted cheese and bacon bits are their popular toppings. Some bakeries offer pretzels made of different flowers like whole wheat, rye or spelt. Oh, nice. in Bavaria, like pretzels accompany a main dish like vice first sausage. And this same kind of dough and a baking procedure with lye and salt is used to make all other kinds like many other kinds of live pastries are live breads, like ly rolls buns quest song, so like the pretzel quest saw that that City Bakery got all that credit for kind of sounds like that's been going on for a while.

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:20

Should we talk now about like, what lie is and why you would use it in in baking. I like put some stuff about it down further on the agenda. But we could we could dive into that now.

Molly 22:29

No, I'm not done. Okay. Okay. There are a ton of pretzel related festivals and special days in Germany and other German speaking countries.

Matthew Amster-Burton 22:40

When you say pretzel related festival? Yeah. Is it? Is it like a pretzel festival? Or like what? What?

Molly 22:47

Like a pretzel themed festival or, like, there are festivals where somebody is crowned like the pretzel prints, things like that. It's true. It's true that life goals man to be. It's it's definitely

Matthew Amster-Burton 23:01

too late for me to be crowned pretzel prints. Why couldn't you have told me about this? When when there was like time to mold my whole life's journey around this goal?

Molly 23:09

Yeah, I don't know. Cuz, cuz I didn't know it until I read it on Wikipedia the

Matthew Amster-Burton 23:13

other hand, I could order a T shirt with anything I want printed on it. You could. Okay.

Molly 23:26

There are lots of variations on the pretzel, that are not as popular around the world, but that show up in other European countries and other countries around the world. So here are some of them. In the Czech Republic. The pretzel is known as the I'm going to just I'm going to destroy all these names. Okay. proclick. That's the Czech Republic in Finland likes like pre click like, you know,

Matthew Amster-Burton 23:52

pre click would mean, but it's like it's what you do before you click on something.

Molly 23:57

It's when you get your your thumb ready.

Matthew Amster-Burton 24:01

Like what you do on Jeopardy?

Molly 24:02

Yes, exactly. You would know Okay, how about what you want to say what it's called in Finland?

Matthew Amster-Burton 24:07

I would love nothing more than to than to tell you that in Finland it's called a Wii Wii porting in wrinkly.

Molly 24:15

In Slovakia. It's called prac click.

Matthew Amster-Burton 24:19

I bet the seas are pronounced like SS or like maybe

Molly 24:24

it seems like it's called the I've heard it called the bretzel in France, which it kind of reminds me of what the French do with you know a number of important words like how they call brownies, but how blown blown

Matthew Amster-Burton 24:39


Molly 24:43

come back. Yes, but

Matthew Amster-Burton 24:47

what? I have no idea what's going on. Plum Bell is what this is what the French called brownies.

Molly 24:56

crumbles. Okay, think of other important Food words that they just sort of tweak a little bit to say in French so sure like a crumble is a climbable I'm trying to remember what a brownie is. It's like a big

Matthew Amster-Burton 25:12

blue No,

Molly 25:13

no. Anyway, I don't know but they call it a they call a pretzel. The Italians call it a bretzel. The Dutch favor sweet variants called crackling.

Matthew Amster-Burton 25:27

No pretzels.

Molly 25:28

Well Norwegian and Danish call it a Kringle this Swedish call like a Kringle is already a thing. That's true. Anyway, there are lots of other names that are sort of related in like Serbian Hungarian Polish Romania the pretzel is known as a variety of covery ghee and it's very popular as a fast food in urban areas and also as a holiday gift does. What are sweet what are

Matthew Amster-Burton 25:52

some other varieties of what are your favorite varieties of coffee?

Molly 25:58

I love I just love So are there many foods in the US that are given as a holiday gift? I feel like other countries do this way better than we do.

Matthew Amster-Burton 26:08

Like cookies in a tin bucket. Can I think of one other? Not really?

Molly 26:17

No. I just love all these things like how you know in the the shichimi togarashi episode we were talking about how you know you would bring back the signature shichimi of a particular temple when you went to that temple. Look

Matthew Amster-Burton 26:29

at what we did last week.

Molly 26:31

Other countries just give better food gifts.

Matthew Amster-Burton 26:34

What Yeah, it's true.

Molly 26:35

It's true. Anyway. Okay, so would you like to pause for a moment and talk about like lie and then we'll come to talking about like the US and yellow sauce for industry? Let's pause for lies Let's share some lies. Okay, so

Matthew Amster-Burton 26:49

pretzels get their like shiny skin and particular flavor from being dipped in a alkaline bath of some kind. And it doesn't seem to really matter much like what the alkalizing agent is because there are a few that are used and my impression is that they don't result in like a huge difference in the in the final product is just like which which alkalizing agent you have on hand and is like characteristic of your region.

Molly 27:17

Okay, so what are the possible what are some possible choices of an owl? Okay. Can I alkalinizing agent?

Matthew Amster-Burton 27:24

I'm going with alkalising alkalising out?

Molly 27:28

Okay, let's go on. To really on my game today, am I not? Oh, you

Matthew Amster-Burton 27:33

are I mean your game being Animal Crossing, which is mostly what we've talked. So there's baking soda, which is sodium bicarbonate. And it is a weak base. A base is anything it's the opposite of an acid. It's anything with a pH above seven. What is it actually doing to the dough surface? I don't know. But it's, it gives it that that pretzel shine and color and flavor washing soda is sodium carbonate, which is much more basic than baking soda or baking soda has a pH of eight and washing soda has a pH of 11. Okay, and lye is sodium or potassium hydroxide which is very very basic like it will hurt you if you touch it. And that is page of 13

Molly 28:16

I think everybody who has seen Fight Club will room Yes,

Matthew Amster-Burton 28:19

of course.

Molly 28:20

Yeah. Okay. And so is it like a solution of straight lie?

Matthew Amster-Burton 28:25

Well, I mean, it is a loot solution of like, okay, so like any any acid or base like the more you dilute it, water is neutral pH so the more you dilute it the closer it gets to neutral. Yeah. So any any of these things like no, you're not you're not making a concentrated lie solution like dissolving your pretzels. Right? Okay.

Molly 28:45

I Well, I wasn't sure. Yeah. And so washing the pretzels it does something that we don't really understand. So

Matthew Amster-Burton 28:53

I think we really understand if you're a food scientist get in touch contact at Spielberg podcast calm or we could just like pick up and reread our copies of on food and cooking.

Molly 29:02

Do you think that it does something to promote the my yard reaction?

Matthew Amster-Burton 29:06

I think yes. Because pretzels that have had alkaline bath brown much quicker than pretzels that haven't. Right. I

Molly 29:14

mean, it's it's that bath that then once they're in the oven, and they go through the yard reaction helps promote not only the the flavor, but also that traditional like brown skin that they get.

Matthew Amster-Burton 29:28

Yeah, I mean, it's like we can make a kind of an educated guess that it's like it's denaturing proteins and like linking them up in ways that they weren't previously linked up.

Molly 29:39

Okay, cool. Well, so anyway, as we have learned, what have we learned?

Matthew Amster-Burton 29:46

We learned okay. You can put literally anything in your pocket. They'll just disappear down in there.

Molly 29:55

Yeah, that's right. Okay. Including pretzels. Now, the original pretzel as we have learned is a soft pretzel. Okay,

Matthew Amster-Burton 30:03

well we also learned if your parents don't give you the talk about soft pretzels you have to go to San Francisco and learn about it hands on.

Molly 30:09

Anyway in the late 1700s Southern German and Swiss German immigrants in the US introduced pretzels against soft pretzels to North America now these immigrants became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch now, I didn't do research into the Pennsylvania Dutch but wait a minute there Southern German and Swiss.

Matthew Amster-Burton 30:30

I know the answer to this.

Unknown Speaker 30:32


Matthew Amster-Burton 30:32

they were Dutch here is is a what's what's a word for what do you like, take a word and mess with it. I was gonna say bastardization, but that's not correct corruption. The word of the word Deutsche Deutschland, okay. And so, at one point, like so I was like, Where were you guys from? Like Deutsche flood of Dutch. We've heard we know the word Dutch. We'll call you the Dutch.

Molly 30:53

Wow. That is fascinating and weird. And

Matthew Amster-Burton 30:57

other things like that

Molly 30:58

kind of messed up.

Matthew Amster-Burton 31:00

Yeah, I mean, like, I guess the word Indian is like a symbol along the same lines.

Molly 31:06

Yeah. Okay. Anyway, so these immigrants became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch and in time, many handmade pretzel bakeries popped up all through this part of Pennsylvania. And through that the there the pretzels popularity spread in the 1900s. So after a while of a while after their origination in Pennsylvania, soft pretzels became popular in other regions to particularly in cities like Philadelphia, Chicago and New York, which became like renowned for soft pretzels. Yeah. And not long after came along, you know, the introduction of of black mass production methods that made it possible for pretzels to show up beyond just street vendors and bakeries, but also in like schools and movie theaters, and the roller skating rink and airports, etc.

Matthew Amster-Burton 31:54

I bet this is all over YouTube, but I don't think I've ever seen like a pretzel making machine. But I bet it's pretty cool.

Molly 32:01

I bet it is pretty cool. It was a big deal. I mean, kind of like it's interesting to me the the parts of this, this story that sort of echo the story of the candy cane like yeah, so you know, the idea that you had this thing that was initially like, straight that had to be bent, right? Wait,

Matthew Amster-Burton 32:19

wait, hang on a second. Did pretzel start is like just a really, really long puppy breadstick is that I missed that part of the story. I'm talking

Molly 32:28

about how you start with like, you know, like a line of dough, and you're gonna you know what I mean? The same thing is with the candy cane. And so it makes sense that the machines to like automate the bending or the twisting of this, these products would be a really big deal in terms of inventions.

Matthew Amster-Burton 32:48

So medieval mugs were like really spending most of their time thinking like, what what food could we bend and give to children? Like, what? What about like a steak?

Molly 33:01

Or whatever about those, like meat sticks? You know? Nobody has made a bent Slim Jim.

Matthew Amster-Burton 33:07

That's an interesting point.

Molly 33:09

I mean, why not? You could like hook it for rearview mirror or you could like hook it onto your wrist or something and carry it around.

Matthew Amster-Burton 33:16

Yes. So yeah, it's amazing. There isn't like a Slim Jim candy cane. like can you imagine like if you got if you got like a candy cane shaped slim jam in your stocking. I would love that. They're delicious. They're much better than candy canes. striped package. Yes. This is a very good idea.

Molly 33:36

What we're gonna get right on that. This is how we're gonna make money in the future. Okay, we're gonna make our own branded. Slim Matthew. Oh, boy, Andy. Okay. does not have a real ring to it.

Matthew Amster-Burton 33:51

It's got a real ring to it. Do you think we can get it on the market by Christmas? 2020.

Molly 33:56

Yes. Okay, everybody Stay tuned. Anyway. Alright, so the average film

Matthew Amster-Burton 34:00

to be clear. We're just going to take by some Slim Jims at the gas station, like spend them and like paint the pack.

Molly 34:08

Okay, yeah, yeah. All right. I'll come pick you up later. And we'll go We'll go hit stores. The average Philadelphia and consumes 12 times as many pretzels as the national average. According to Wikipedia, I've been to Philadelphia a couple times. I can confirm that.

Matthew Amster-Burton 34:25

Really? Oh, Philadelphia is soft pretzel Central. Like they are everywhere and they're delicious. And they're incredibly cheap.

Molly 34:33

Pennsylvania as a whole produces 80% of the nation's pretzels.

Matthew Amster-Burton 34:38

Yeah, like like Snyder's of Hanover, that's Pennsylvania, right. Yeah.

Molly 34:42

So hard pretzels. Speaking of hard pretzels. They originated in the US actually in the 1850s at the Sturgis bakery in Pennsylvania. And the big deal with hard pretzels is that they were more durable for shipping right and that they had a longer shelf flyff because with soft pretzels you kind of need to eat it like right away.

Matthew Amster-Burton 35:04

Yeah, but they're they're like kind of not really the same food.

Unknown Speaker 35:07

It's true. I

Matthew Amster-Burton 35:08

know. I know they're they're same shape and they're both made of dough. But like, nobody like craving a soft pretzel is going to be satisfied with a hard pretzel or vice versa.

Unknown Speaker 35:20

Totally different. Right.

Unknown Speaker 35:21

So um,

Matthew Amster-Burton 35:22

I learned you know, I learned a little bit I visited the Sturgis bakery website and learned that if you go on the tour, you can quote, get a hands on lesson in pretzel twisting using a Play Doh mixture. So that they're not letting you anywhere near the real doubt. But you can you can give it a shot with Plato. I began. Yeah, so like I mentioned, I've been to Philadelphia and eaten Philadelphia soft pretzels several times. And they have kind of a unusual shape. They are much much wider than they are tall, kind of. And so they look sort of like a capital letter B that got squished and fell over. And they're very chewy. The current probably like most widespread chain in Philadelphia is Philly pretzel factory. And their slogan is no pretzel more than one hour old, which I think is a pretty good slogan. That is. Yeah. And that's really all I have to say about Philadelphia soft pretzels.

Molly 36:15

Um, so let's talk about toppings for progress. Okay, so salt is the most common seasoning and I think we should talk in a minute about pretzel salt, but others that I'm sure you've probably noticed are like you know, grated cheeses, sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, cinnamon sugar, various glazes and seeds. Nuts. Apparently I've never really thought about

Matthew Amster-Burton 36:39

nuts would probably be good. So I like a walnut pretzel. I definitely wouldn't say I'm a pretzel traditionalist in that. They're like three kinds of pretzel toppings that I really enjoy.

Unknown Speaker 36:50

Okay, tell me about it. Salt. Okay,

Matthew Amster-Burton 36:52

cinnamon sugar, like, I'm going to an auntie and I'm gonna get one of two things. I mean, they're gonna get cinnamon sugar. That's like 90% of the time probably. I want something a little more hearty. I'm gonna get the pizza pretzel that has like pepperoni is glued to it?

Molly 37:05

Is that an Auntie Anne's?

Matthew Amster-Burton 37:06


Molly 37:07

I've never been to an Auntie Anne's I was gonna ask you so when? When do you eat soft pretzels?

Matthew Amster-Burton 37:12

So I had one this morning because wife the show Laurie made some last night. Other than that, you know, like at the mall pretty much and like, how often do I go to the mall once a year? Maybe.

Molly 37:23

So among all the different like vendors in the food court, you you do tend to go to Auntie Anne's.

Matthew Amster-Burton 37:30

Well, Auntie Anne's usually isn't in the food court. She's usually like, either at like a freestanding kiosk. No, not not so much a freestanding kiosk anymore. I don't think but like somewhere somewhere like off from the food court. Because Andy adds is more of a snack than a meal. Ah,

Unknown Speaker 37:46

good point.

Molly 37:47

Good point. I have never gone to an Auntie Anne's. I mean, I've passed them many many times in the airport at the mall. I feel like my default is aspiro pizza slice.

Matthew Amster-Burton 37:58

Yeah, this wouldn't be instead of this bar. Oh, this would be like if I'm if I'm at the mall, not at meal time. Or like if I want a dessert. Okay. I mean, I made the pizza pizza pretzel a meal, but like the you know the answer. cinnamon sugar pretzel. It's kind of like a Cinnabon in pretzel form. It's very soft. It's very sweet. So right now, hold on,

Molly 38:21

we're gonna switch to frozen pretzels.

Matthew Amster-Burton 38:24


Molly 38:24

So I bought two brands.

Unknown Speaker 38:26

Hold on, I'll finish doing

Molly 38:29

I bought two brands I bought like the Safeway select brand. Okay, which I think so the packet of salt that came in the box was a super pretzel branded packet of salt. Super Petro being like, nationwide line of frozen pretzels. Yeah. So I wonder if the Safeway brand is just like made by super pretzel. That's probable. Anyway. Then I also bought Auntie Anne's classic. They have some other type I bought Auntie Anne's the Safeway select came just like in a bag with a small little packet of salt. Now I find it so annoying that these pretzels only come with one packet of salt like as though you're going to eat all six pretzels at once. So if to open up the packet of salt use just a little bit then find some sort of device to close the packet of salt and put it back in the package in the freezer.

Matthew Amster-Burton 39:18

Sure. Now it is a salt course grade salt aka pretzel salt.

Molly 39:23

It is so I think that this Safeway select one is pretty darn tasty. It tastes like good so it's supposed to this Auntie Anne's one and again this is my first time having an Auntie Anne's product. It is so sweet. Yeah, like sure this particular one came with like little individual packets like almost like those little ketchup packets of butter and you're supposed to melt them in the microwave, squirt the butter on and then sprinkle with salt. I have to say I was kind of grossed out by the thought of the butter packets. So I just smeared some some salted butter of my own on to the pretzel and then put the salt on there. We are texture. They don't really have like a skin like that you don't snap through the skin, the way that you do even on the Safeway select Auntie Anne's doesn't have like a distinguishable skin texture. And also don't take that out of isolation. I mean, don't take that out of context. Anyway, but they're super super sweet.

Matthew Amster-Burton 40:23

Yeah, like it's kind of gross. I don't deal with any kind of like frosting dipping sauce, because that's another thing you get at the at the mall stores. No, I

Molly 40:31

think I could have chosen that and I wanted that like the classic. Yeah, so I'm gonna go with the Safeway select here. I am tempted to drive all the way across town and deliver the rest of these Auntie Anne's to you. Yeah, I

Matthew Amster-Burton 40:42

mean, they sound good. Like I've bought the frozen super pretzel before and I did not think it was very good. I thought they came out kind of dry. But maybe if I brushed them with butter, they would have been better.

Molly 40:52

I didn't brush my Safeway select with butter. I still think it's pretty darn tasty. Okay, maybe I'll try that. Oh, and so I should say you can either microwave these or do them in the oven. I did them in the oven. And I also

Matthew Amster-Burton 41:03

think that microwaving I don't think that would be a very good idea.

Molly 41:08

Yeah, probably not. And I wonder if that's why I'm liking the texture of the Safeway. Select one like cuz the outside did get a little bit crispy. Even just in like four minutes in the oven. Yeah, I'm pleased. I mean, I just don't care about these though. Like, I wouldn't just buy the I don't know when I eat them. Okay, so

Matthew Amster-Burton 41:26

last night wife of the show, Laurie made homemade soft pretzels from a King Arthur flour recipe for Hot Buttered soft pretzels. And I hate to say it's about a thing that I didn't make but it seemed like they were really quick and easy to make. She made for pretzels. And it's like a yeasted dough. But the whole thing was done in like an hour and 15 minutes.

Molly 41:45

Oh, that's amazing.

Matthew Amster-Burton 41:46

Yeah. And they were delicious. Partly because you use like brush on an enormous amount of melted butter when they come out of the oven. But the thing I'm going to say about the pretzel salt is I love the look of like a pretzel dotted with coarse salt. But I think like a like a flaky salt is actually tastier. Which one did Laurie use Maldon sea salt. Oh, God. I've

Molly 42:09

never I've never tried it. I mean, I've never tried that on a pretzel. Right?

Matthew Amster-Burton 42:12

It's good.

Molly 42:13

What did you eat them with? Like, did you do a whole like, did you have like sausage and sauerkraut and like really do it up?

Matthew Amster-Burton 42:20

No, this was like, like, she made them like after dinner and like tasted some last night and then I had some for snacks this morning. And they do reheat well in the microwave just for like 10 or 15 seconds.

Molly 42:30

Okay, you know, I can imagine June asking me to warm up one of these pretzels as like an afternoon snack along with like some cut up apple or something.

Matthew Amster-Burton 42:40


Molly 42:40

They're a good vehicle for mustard,

Matthew Amster-Burton 42:42

which my child loves. Oh, that's interesting. Yeah,

Molly 42:46

he is a real weirdo. I love her

Matthew Amster-Burton 42:48

guys. You know, I mean, it is a very popular condiment

Molly 42:51

it is but like, she will just like, like this extra spicy Dijon mustard. She like dips her finger in it and like licks her finger, which I would not do.

Matthew Amster-Burton 43:03

Yeah, I wouldn't either. But that's because I don't like mustard. Like if it was peanut, I would stick my finger in a peanut butter jar. Yeah, one was looking.

Molly 43:10

I do think that the only time that I really get excited about eating soft pretzels is on the street in New York. Like, that just is so fun.

Matthew Amster-Burton 43:20

I haven't been to like a classic roller skating rink in so long. Like probably 35 years. I would really would love to go roller skating and eat a pretzel. I think there is a roller rink like in North Seattle. So

Molly 43:36

is this just one of those dreams you're having because of lockdown. And so you're just dreaming of all kinds of things you never dreamed about before?

Matthew Amster-Burton 43:44

I think so. Yes. Last night, I had a dream that I was trying to go to sleep. But like in my bedroom. There were a whole bunch of people talking loudly and had and had the lights on. I was like, Hey, you guys, it's 3am doesn't anyone isn't? Are we going to sleep and everyone ignored me. Oh, that doesn't sound like fun. No, but I've actually I got to sleep. I found

Molly 44:03

myself so I've been last week I read the Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. Just incredible. And this week, I've been reading Giovanni's Room which God is so amazing. I mean, it's it's really sad to see his homophobia However, it's a beautiful book. And anyway, but it you know, it takes place in Paris in the 50s. And you know, I know that we love to make fun of my like relationship to France. But it's been a long time since I really thought about France or like the time that I spent living there. And I haven't missed it. Like my last experiences there were sort of shitty, like just people being mean and stuff like that. Anyway, I like lying in bed last night. I like traveled to France in my mind and like walked down streets that I've gone to before and like remember like I walked from my old apart Men over to the the outdoor market I used to go to like I could walk down the street in my mind like, oh god, it felt so good. Speaking of which,

Matthew Amster-Burton 45:11

there was a couple days ago in the New York Times and article about like the Japanese economy and like how it's weathering the crisis, and it was illustrated with a big picture of the Nakano sun mall.

Molly 45:23

Are you serious?

Matthew Amster-Burton 45:23


Molly 45:24

Oh my god. I hope you took that opportunity in your mind to walk down the Nakano sun. I

Matthew Amster-Burton 45:29

did. Yes. I don't even know like why I was able to instantly recognize it in the photo even though there are so many other shopping arcades in Tokyo that look just like it.

Molly 45:38

Were you able to see like, whatever the stained glass or whatever it is, that's got the sun on it right at the entrance? No, it

Matthew Amster-Burton 45:45

was further inside, like, like the picture was taken, like from like about from the Uniqlo like looking north toward Nakano Broadway.

Molly 45:51


Matthew Amster-Burton 45:52

those definitely leave this in the episode.

Molly 45:55

Great. our listeners are gonna love this. But anyway, yeah, I feel like walking down the street in New York eating a soft pretzel. The two experiences are very much intertwined.

Matthew Amster-Burton 46:06

Yeah. Oh, for sure. Yeah. Would you go soft pretzel or like roasted nuts? Oh, soft pretzel all the way. I like the roasted nuts.

Molly 46:14

I like the roasted nuts for the smell. But I don't really want to eat the roasted nuts.

Matthew Amster-Burton 46:18

Do you think it'd be good if the roasted nut vendor had like, just like pay a certain amount just to stand nearby and enjoy the aroma?

Unknown Speaker 46:25


Matthew Amster-Burton 46:26

that's what I'm into. Alright, that's what I'm into. Also, you can find us online at spilled milk podcast.com. And on facebook@facebook.com slash spilled milk podcast feel like there's a thing we wanted people to weigh in on?

Molly 46:37

Oh, what to do on animal crossing.

Matthew Amster-Burton 46:39

What to write what do you like? What

Unknown Speaker 46:41

do I do now?

Matthew Amster-Burton 46:44

in your pocket? Where do you go? Yeah, I

Molly 46:46

mean, June says to me, you know, you just walk around and you talk to other people on the island and you sell stuff and you build stuff, which I'm cool with that. I mean, this game totally appeals to all the parts of me that kind of like doing nothing.

Matthew Amster-Burton 46:59

Yeah, yeah, I get it. We're on Instagram at spilled milk Podcast Producer is Abby circus hella.

Molly 47:05

Thanks for listening to spilled milk, the show that if you take the two ends and twist them together and flip them back on to themselves, you've got an episode

Matthew Amster-Burton 47:16

where the two ends? Yeah. But what happens if you put your if you put your thing down, flip it and reverse it. Oh, is that how you make pretzels? Yes, exactly. Okay, okay. All right. See you next time.

Unknown Speaker 47:28


Matthew Amster-Burton 47:30

Do we end the show? I say see you next.

Molly 47:33

I don't think so. I'm Molly weissenberg.

Matthew Amster-Burton 47:35

And I'm Matthew Amster-Burton.

Molly 47:45

We're like the people in Best in Show.

Unknown Speaker 47:49

We both love soup.

Matthew Amster-Burton 47:50

We both love

Molly 47:52

snap peas. Talking, not talking. Yep, we could talk or not talk all day.