The pretzel: It'll feed a horse, bed a cat, make the boss smile

THIS JUST IN. . .

March 10, 1995|By DAN RODRICKS News intern Gilead Light contributed to this column.

Would you believe Moo-Shi Pretzels? Somewhere in America, a husband and wife actually eat Chinese food mixed with pretzel bits. They use them as a pizza topping, too, and as an ingredient in tacos. (You talk about your multiculturalism. That's your multiculturalism right there.)

We know about Moo-Shi Pretzels and other creative dishes because, it turns out, serious chompers regularly report their gastronomic innovations to the nation's leading hard pretzel baker in Hanover, Pa.

For several years, Snyder's has had a Creative Pretzel Eater's Club. It boasts 11,000 members and grows at a rate of 75 new members per week, according to Ed Thompson, manager of customer services for the company. Letters -- fan mail -- come in almost every day.

"One woman wrote in for a membership for her boss," Thompson reports. "She said they all laughed at him because he only ate our no-fat hard sourdough pretzels through the day and drank seltzer water. Then he ate a regular meal at night. After two months, he had lost more than 20 pounds. So they were going to apologize for laughing by giving him one of our membership cards."

The Snyder's marketing department sometimes tests new products and packaging on club members. Thompson says the company gets letters from all over the country. "I can't go more than 24 hours without my favorite pretzels," one woman wrote. "I run the risk of slipping into a depressive comatose state or suffering the legendary Snyder's withdrawal."

Other people send recipes: Pretzels dipped in semi-sweet chocolate and rolled in nuts, pretzel pie, strawberry pretzel salad, pecan pretzel pie, pretzel stuffing, pretzel nachos, pretzel crab cakes (pardon the blasphemy) and pretzel baked chicken.

"One person wrote about how her boss introduced our pretzels to the office staff," Thompson says, "and how they have all been turned into 'slobbering, pretzel-grabbing zombies.' " People mail in photographs of themselves and their kids eating Snyder's. "One man," says Thompson, "sent a photo of himself standing in front of a pyramid he created on his dining room table using our boxes."

"People have also asked for membership cards for their pets," he says. "One person recently told us that she left an empty [three-pound] box of our Hard Pretzels on the floor one day, and her cat crawled into it and fell asleep. She included pictures and said that it is the only place her cat will go to sleep anymore. Another woman sent a picture of her horse eating our pretzels. She said they are the horse's favorite treat."

I'd never waste a pretzel on a horse.

Golly, Wal-Mart

Here's one from the Give-Us-A-Break Department: When Patricia Schwab went looking for a new vacuum cleaner, she did some serious comparison shopping. She entered the Wal-Mart in White Marsh, with pen and paper in hand, and began noting prices and model numbers. A Wal-Mart employee stopped her and informed her, politely, that it was against store policy to let customers write down prices. She would have to stop.

What's the big deal here? Why couldn't Mrs. Schwab write down those prices, and how did anyone know what she was writing anyway? The predictable answer came yesterday from Wal-Mart's Arkansas headquarters. Keith Morris, a spokesman for the multibillion-dollar chain, says the store policy is intended to guard against competitors trying to compare prices. Says Morris, "If our competitors walk through the store with a sheet of paper, write down 50 or 60 prices, and then go and lower theirs. . . ."

But, come on. Patricia Schwab was no spy for Kmart. She was just doing that conscientious consumer thing. "We can't determine if it's a customer or competitor doing it," says Morris. "So our policy is to approach the customer as to why they're writing down prices. We try to explain to them the policy and why we enforce the rule across the board."

What horse hockey.

Note to Cab No. 713: Thanks

Tracie Bunton left "a shopping bag full of stuff" in the Yellow Cab she took from Penn Station to her house in Charles Village. She discovered the blunder after reaching her porch, as the cab disappeared down the street. Tracie called the dispatcher, but the voice of Yellow Cab radio was pessimistic. "Four days later," Tracie says, "there's a knock on the door and there's the driver! He said he didn't have my exact address but somehow he came to the right door. (He had just let me out on my block.) He handed me my bag and assured me that everything was there." Then he disappeared. "His name sounds like Abdid," Tracie says. "He drives No. 713. . . . Tell him thanks again for me."

Hold the toast, guys

Sign at Kountry Kafe and Katering, Westminster: "By request, we are a smoke free restaurant -- unless we burn the toast."

And finally. . .

Sheppard -- and not Shappard, as it appeared in Wednesday's column -- was the first name of the late Mayor Leakin of Baltimore. . . Will the person who, without explanation, left the 36-inch hot dog in the Sun lobby last Friday please give us a call? . . . Contact This Just In at 332-6166, or write to The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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