Writing While Hungry: Philly Knows Pretzels
May 24, 2017
I took a work trip to Philadelphia for a couple days last week and there were two non-work related takeaways.
1. Flying without kids after flying with kids is super weird.
I had so many hands… what was I supposed to do with my hands… They weren’t holding anything or feeding anyone or directing a small child away from an escalator. Every time I saw a baby/toddler in the airport I felt a very distinct urge to go over and help the parents even if they had everything under control. It just seemed like I needed to be getting someone juice and I wasn’t getting anyone juice. It was unsettling.
2. Soft pretzels are life, the rest is just details.
Intrigued? (Really?) Read on. (post contains affiliate links)
Sometimes I All Need is the Air that I Breathe and a Pretzel
On the descent into Philly I was reading Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things (ugh, go read it, it’s so good) finally settling into my time as a solo person not responsible for anyone else’s juice. But all of a sudden we got into the Philly metro airspace and I had to stop reading because all I could think about were soft pretzels. Basically a pregnancy craving level desire but without the pregnancy. It was as if Philly piped the smell of soft pretzels into the air as a welcome.
I know they say that cheese steaks are the Chicago deep dish pizza or New England clam chowder of Philly, but my vote has always been for their pretzels and I’ve never understood why my opinion doesn’t matter more on this topic. In any case, I didn’t have a soft pretzel available to me at the moment, so instead I mentally wrote a blog post in homage to them and their homeland. (You’re still reading this, that’s very nice.)
An Open Apology to Auntie Anne’s
I’m going into this assuming you’ve had a soft pretzel from the Pennsylvania headquartered national chain Auntie Anne’s because the vast majority of my readership is American (read “my mom”). (But a big ‘What Up’ to whoever the person consistently reading from Australia is. That’s awesome.) So since you know Auntie Anne’s, you can imagine my delight in receiving an Auntie Anne’s gift card in my Christmas stocking one year. On the surface this seemed wonderful. In reality, it became the biggest pain in my wallet and took years off of my life.
Apparently you can only use Auntie Anne’s gift cards at mall locations, not airports or rest stops. I know this for a fact because I spent 5 years trying to use this gift card on every single trip I took. And I’m a naive little flower so every time my gift card was turned away I just kept trying, kept paying full price for my pretzels, and kept complaining about it afterwards.
Until one day my patience barometer had reached an all time low and poor Auntie Anne’s bore the brunt of my totally unrelated rage. I hit the keyboard and I hit it hard, writing a very strongly worded letter to the customer service department demanding to be able to use my gift card without having to step foot in a mall. Looking back on this I can’t even begin to unpack my own privilege – this was the biggest problem in my life, wanting a free pretzel without having to smell Hollister. That’s “punch me in the face” level terrible. But you know what, the good people at Auntie Anne’s sent me a $10 check that I promptly cashed and have yet to spend on soft pretzels despite my sincerest promises. But give me 5 more years, it’s happening.
God Bless the Amish
A much shorter story about pretzels, one time outside of Philadelphia #bff Kel brought me to Amish country to eat the best soft pretzel that has ever been made. Not hyperbole. Not even a slight exaggeration. The.Best.Of.All.Time. I fantasize about eloping with that pretzel (sorry not totally sorry, Glen). I talk about it often as if it is a dear friend with whom I’ve lost touch but always wished the very best for. Really I don’t say it enough, God bless the Amish.
Don’t Worry, It All Worked Out
Lastly, to bring this full circle I felt it important to let you know that in my welcome bag at the hotel last week there was a soft pretzel. It was the third greatest thing to happen in my life.
With genuine confusion about why you read this whole post but a lot of gratitude,
P.S. Stay tuned for Part II. Less pretzels, more snarky tweets about birds.