Growing up in north central Pennsylvania was to grow up in pretzel country. We knew lots of different kinds and twists of pretzels — stick pretzels, soft ballpark pretzels, pretzels that were the size of two thumbs, penny pretzels from glass jars. But the prize pretzels of our youths were Hard Pretzels. They were the same size as a smaller diameter, somewhat softer pretzel, which featured ordinary salt. The Hard Pretzels had rock salt, and weren’t allowed if you had a bad tooth or soft jaws. They could be sucked on and teachers wouldn’t know you were eating in class. They cost more than the penny pretzels, maybe 2–3 cents apiece, so Daddy would only buy them for us kids on special occasions.
I assumed hard pretzels would be found everywhere, but as I got married and Jer and I moved from Pennsylvania to Virginia to Wyoming to Long Island back to Wyoming to Kansas and finally to Portland, we lost them. In some places we could find a store that carried a box of two, but mostly not. And then in Portland, somehow, a whole supply of Snyder’s (of Hanover) Hard Pretzels were available.
Jan became addicted. The grandkid couldn’t enter the house without checking the pretzel cupboard. Jer took them to his computer by the box full. And then, one month a few years ago, they disappeared. No store in Portland stocked them. The cupboard was bare. Oh, there were other wimpy pretzels, neither here nor there ones, a bit too big for a single bite, but so wimpy in chewiness that even with a tooth ache, they were bearable. Jer could go through a bag of these nonentities a night. I found them so distasteful I scarcely snacked on them at all.
Then one day, Freddy’s (the discount store, Fred Meyer, to non-Portlanders) started carrying a few boxes. We bought out all we could find every time we were near Fred’s, which probably deprived Rick and Jan of finding any for their own cupboards. The supply was always low, just on the verge of not being there at all. But a box or two crept back into our diets every couple of weeks.
Then last Saturday, Jan and I were at the Big Freddy’s (off Broadway near SE 28th) and there, there! was the supply we had to buy:
Seven boxes of Snyder’s of Hanover Sourdough Pretzels, good with mustard, good as midnight snacks, good for editing Wikipedia, good for the morale of the homestead. We thought of sending some home with Jan, but because seven was such an outrageous number (we took all Fred had in stock), we decided to pile them up, just to see Jer’s astonished delight. Which we did. And now it’s Tuesday and there are only 5 boxes left. But we won’t raid the Hawthorne Freddy’s, so Jan might find some there. –June