Trevor: Do you want to get free chocolate on the Hershey Chocolate Factory tour?
See? Such finesse comes after years of practice and it is rumored that some husbands never achieve it.
In a similarly plotted scheme, last weekend we found ourselves wandering the highways of Central Pennsylvania on our way to Pocono Plateau.
Naturally, our road trip led to food. What else?! This is how we got to visit Callie's Pretzel Factory in Mountainhome, Pennsylvania, a family-owned business and tourist
Now you should know that I come from a country where spotting a new pretzel place is considered raison d'etre so I had to try an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch pretzel.
You could actually see the people making the pretzels in what seemed like an operation room setting. You know, the kind they show in movies where reputed surgeons are scrutinized from behind a wide glass panel by a bunch of residents. Well, we were the residents and the pretzels were the patients. Only more doughy. You could see the whole process, from the time the dough was made, cut by a machine, moved around on conveyor belts and roasted in the oven.
We also learned two very important life skills: how to twist a pretzel and how to sport a moustache.
If there are ever two words that I thought I would never see side by side, they are "gourmet popcorn". Mostly because "gourmet" should never be attached to anything that pops. So gourmet pole pops are out of the question. Sort of...
Since you've read this far, let me
How the pretzel was invented.
The story of this snack begins in 610 A.D. The setting is a monastery somewhere in the north of Italy or south of France (be understanding, it was a long time ago, who knows). A monk has this brilliant idea to take leftover dough and twist it so that it resembles arms folded in prayer. Then he bakes the bread and uses it as incentive for children who learn their prayers well. I believe the part about the monk doing a happy dance was omitted from the story. I have no idea why. After all, it was an act of God. Anyway, the monk calls his discovery pretiola, meaning little reward in Latin. Incidentally, this also means "I'll grab one on my way to my corporate job" nowadays.
How the pretzel crossed the ocean.
I imagined a lone pretzel rowing away into the sunset in a tiny boat. Surprisingly, it wasn't like that at all! In the 1800s the European invention crossed the Atlantic with the first German and Austrian settlers who became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. The first pretzel bakery was established in Lancaster County and out of that grew an industry that now produces around 300 million pounds of doughy goodness each year (136,077 metric tons, according to BFF Google).
To put an American twist on it (as if the regular twist wasn't enough), a National Pretzel Bakers Institute was set up in 1948 in order to regulate this noble profession. To make it even more official, Pennsylvanians opened a Pretzel Museum in Philadelphia and declared April 26th as National Pretzel Day.
Callie's Pretzel Factory is definitely catering to a tourist crowd by displaying the first car that they used to deliver their merchandise.
After we both got our fix for the day, Trevor and I left the Poconos singing out loud "won't you take me to ... Pretzel Town" in the manner of Lipps Inc.