NSFM2012 - Day 20
Featured snack: Trader Joe’s Pumpernickel Pretzel Sticks
Rating: 74 Lederhosen
I don’t think it is controversial to suggest that salt is the best and most useful of all the spices. Of course, what makes salt so great is its ability to enhance the flavors around it instead of being its own flavor. It is like the John Paul Jones of spices in that way.
This is what has always made pretzels a bit of a puzzle to me. I’ve never thought that a bread stick, albeit a crispy bread stick, held an interesting enough flavor to be enhanced. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the bread sticks commonly used for pretzels are so neutral, so empty of personality, that the flavor of pretzels becomes essentially the flavor of salt. Needless to say, this doesn’t make for a very compelling snack experience.
Trader Joe’s Pumpernickel Pretzel Sticks avoid this problem simply by using a more interesting and delicious bread as the central vehicle of the snack - giving pretzel salt, perhaps for the first time, something useful to do. Was that so hard?
NSFM - Day 25
Featured snack: Kale chips
Rating: 77 coughs
Review: Kale chips are great. So great. So great that if they had run for Mayor of Chicago, they totally would have won. They have so many of the qualities one hopes for in a snack. They are crispy but also chewy. They have the obligatory craving-satiating salt and oil but with real flavor underneath. And even though everyone I’ve seen on the internet somehow seems abnormally and (frankly) absurdly proud of themselves for having made them, they are, in fact, extremely easy to make.
The only gripe that I can possibly dig up concerning KC’s is that when you bake them, it is inevitable that the very edges will get slightly burnt and crispy. It is also inevitable that these flakey edges will immediately fragment upon impact and quickly populate the lining of your throat until you cough. Still - it is a small price to pay.
NSFM - Day 21
Featured snack: Snyder’s of Hanover brand Honey Mustard & Onion flavored “Pieces”
Rating: 18 breath mints
Review: I’ll be honest with you guys: I’m not crazy about pretzels. Yes, the shape is fun and aesthetically pleasing, but the flavor department is severely understaffed. Also, do we really need the excessively large grains of salt?
This product, courtesy of Snyder’s of Hanover (not to be confused with Snyder’s of Berlin according to the packaging) has neither of those problems. The hearty chunks of sourdough pretzel have a beautiful balance of crispy shell and bready insides. However, what makes them truly addictive is the sweet and tangy mustard and onion flavoring. It’s comforting to know that when broken pretzels die, they go on to such a wonderful and productive afterlife. We should all be so lucky.