the frozen pretzel conundrum

I am slowly but steadily finding my way back to that mysterious land where I feel motivated and inspired to write something every day. I blame Fallout: New Vegas for wrapping me up in an interesting world every night, and a giant stack of comic books that reminded me how much I love superhero stories. I've been working on a short short story (about 2K words) that I hope to release soon, but holy shit is it kicking my ass. I have a ton of respect for authors who can stick with a full length (or even 10K or 15K) story, because I am having a very hard time getting out of the "well, this was a good idea, but the execution really sucks" part of the process.

Anyway, that's not why I sat down to write this post. This post is about this frozen box of pretzels I bought yesterday, which can allegedly be heated to perfection in the microwave, dusted with salt (that comes in a handy packet and everything) and then enjoyed the way one enjoys a pretzel that does not suck.

What. A. Load.

Seriously, I don't think there's enough beer and mustard on the planet to make this pretzel — which is more chewy unsatisfying lump of salty dough than what is traditionally understood to be a pretzel — enjoyable.

But it's sitting here, on my desk, looking all sad and lumpy and pathetic, one bite taken out of it, almost apologetic. If this pretzel-like thing could talk, it would probably say, "Hey, man, I'm sorry. When I was at the pretzel place where they make pretzels, I came out of the oven and I was perfect. I was warm, I had that pretzel thing going where the outside of me is slightly thicker than regular crust, so the inside of me was all soft and kind of lighter than regular bread, but when they froze me and put me into the box, well, something just died inside of me, man."

I feel like I should apologize to the pretzel for hating it so much — it's not entirely its fault that it sucks as much as it does — but unlike everything else that surrounds me, this particular inanimate object doesn't seem interested in having a conversation with me that I can transcribe. Uh, beyond the one prepared statement, I guess.

I guess it's my own fault for ignoring a lifetime of disappointing microwavable bread products and ignoring the sage advice of my wife, who said, "That's going to suck, and you're going to be pissed that you bought it, and you keep complaining about feeling tubby so why are you eating pretzels, anyway?"

I guess the moral of the story is: don't go shopping when you're hungry.

In happier news, I have three pretzel-shaped frozen hunks of bread to throw at the next group of surly kids who refuse to get off my lawn.

44 thoughts on “the frozen pretzel conundrum”

  1. Is this post really about the frozen pretzels or your wife being right? :)
    And frankly, “The Frozen Pretzel Conundrum” should be the title of your next short story. There is so much potential there.

  2. Hey, this post proves that you’re rediscovering your writing mojo. That personification of the failed pretzel was inspired.
    And if Bill Prady, Chuck Lorre and the other writers are reading this, “The Frozen Pretzel Conundrum” should become a BBT episode.

  3. For a non-disappointing microwave bread product, try the Chinese Pork Buns from Trader Joe’s. I have had non-microwaved bread products that were not as good as those things!

  4. 2 words of advice from someone who’s school mascot was the Pretzel: Toaster Oven. Makes for a much better experience.
    While we’re on the subject of pretzels my best friend once asked a rival the following ” During homecoming we sell Pretzels in the hall. Do you sell Trojans?” She had no clue *facepalm*
    PS glad to read you like mustard w/ your pretzels – it’s really the only way.

  5. Well, to salvage the pretzels, you could always cook them up, cover them with peanut butter and roll them in cracked black oil sunflower seeds, and hang them up outside for the birds and squirrels. Birds and squirrels gotta eat too, man… ;-)

  6. I think it’s a matter of hope. We believe that as technology and things progress that microwavable food, and in turn bready products heated this way will be better. You bought the box of frozen pretzels as a mark of a hope in the now.

  7. Aw, Wil, I’m sorry about the crappy pretzel :(
    However, I may be able to help out on the snack front. You see, I just recently made an amazing batch of homemade-from-scratch, tastes-like-freaking-heaven, there-is-way-too-much-sugar-in-this-to-be-healthy-anymore…old fashioned apple butter.
    I will gladly send you a jar, if you wish.

  8. I’ve had that conversation with my husband a million times. But you can replace “pretzels” with “chinese food” and “tubby” with “heartburn.” Or, alternatively, “pretzels” with “dubious looking video games you buy when nothing good has come out for awhile” and “tubby” with “play a video game for ten minutes and realize it sucks.”

  9. Sorry to hear about the shit-tastic pretzel. I’m looking at your latest Tweets and…Wil Wheaton confirmed for Phoenix Comicon 2011? That shit wouldn’t be the same without you, man.

  10. When I was a kid our small town ice rink sold soft pretzels. They were awesome on a scale that only exists in childhood memories. I have always pursued that awesomeness as an adult, and it has consistently eluded me. No pretzel since has ever been as warm, crusty, salty, and wonderful as that ice rink pretzel. Maybe it was the overload of senses that overwhelms a rink rat in their natural habitat: the cold, the vapors of the Zamboni, the worn, perpetually wet wood of the boards, the fogged glass, the tape balls strewn all over like runaway Tribbles, the rubber floor, and constant funk of old skates and hockey bags. Combine all that with the odd icy-hot feeling of coming off the rink and biting into that salty/crusty/soft/doughy pretzel that, when you were a kid was as big as your head.
    Damn I miss that.

  11. Okay, here’s the deal. Make your pretzels. Sound crazy? Here’s an easy lazy cheater way. Find a grocer or pizza place that sells their dough. That’s the most time consuming part and now it’s already done. The rest will take you 10 minutes and a little time in the oven.

    • Preheat your oven to 450.
    • Line a couple cookie sheets with parchment paper and spray with a little cooking spray.
    • Separate the dough into sizable little balls, roll into ropes and shape your pretzels and put them onto the cookie sheets.
    • Bring a big ol’ pot of water to a boil with some baking soda and drop the pretzels in one or two at a time and let sit for about 30 seconds, then fish them out with a skimmer and put back on the cookie sheet. (If you don’t have a skimmer you could probably get away with a slotted spoon or spatula.)
    • Beat an egg yolk in a small bowl with a little bit of water then brush it over the pretzels.
    • Sprinkle with salt (not table, big chunky kosher salt) and put it in the over for 10-15 till they’re looking golden brown and delicious.
    • Fend off the desire to gobble them down immediately and cool for 5 minutes.
      Few minutes of work and you got golden salty magic in your mouth (In a delicious baked good way, not a perverse way.)
  12. Oh, gawd… I totally feel your pain. I bought some of those pretzels, too. I was full of hope. I wanted a delicious, salty, chewy pretzel and the mall was closed so I couldn’t go to Aunt Annie’s. My pretzel didn’t speak to me as yours did, but I think that was because it actually died in the microwave. I’m sure I heard the screams.
    @Itsbecca, I’m going to try your way!

  13. Hmm, I’ve never been a big pretzel eater, but throwing those at surly neighborhood hooligans sounds like fun. When I was a kid my mom used to make her own pancakes out of buckwheat and other hearty flours…and once they set up they were as hard as cardboard. But the great part was that they made awesome frisbees…you could easy hurl one 30 ft or more and they were perfect for smacking some unruly youngster in the head with. :)
    And when did TJs start having Chinese Pork Buns??? I’ve been shopping there for years and have never seen them! Must…find…best..food…ever!!!

  14. It totally sucks that I read your post *after* smugly stuffing my big box of frozen pretzels in the freezer, satisfied that even though my husband got a new car today, I got a monster box of frozen pretzels from Costco. Dude, there’s 20 of these things! *sigh*

  15. Funny you should mention short short stories. When my novel writing gets bogged down, I often exercise my muse with very short stories (usually 1k words or less). Well, against my better judgement, I let my geek mind and muse run free one night. When they returned, they had a quick little story starring one Wil Wheaton. I have been debating for quite a while about sharing it. I am still finding my stride as a writer (two Epic fails so far) so I’m afraid it’s not as good as I think it is. Is there a way that I may pass a copy on for no other reason than you may get a bit of a chuckle out of it?

  16. Those frozen pretzels are allegorical to my college degree. Looked great while doing it. Something died inside after it was over.
    But I got a lump of paper to throw at kids to get offa my lawn!

  17. The frozen pretzels aren’t bad. There is a trick to them. Take a paper towel and wet it down, wrap it around the pretzel, then microwave. Doesn’t come out all chewy that way.

  18. Oh man…. For a minute from the title I thought maybe you’d bought some chocolate covered hard pretzels and were going to take a break and enjoy one from the fridge, and tell us a story.
    *pfft* Food disappointments like that are just bleep. It’s more than food, it’s that MOMENT one was looking incredibly forward to.
    The only disappointment worse for me, is make-up. I bought a powder that was supposed to render a ‘youthful glow’, but it had too much gold frosty stuff in it and I looked like a jaundiced version of the Tin Man. Didn’t look that way in the jar though…..
    So sorry about the snack moment Mr. Wheaton. On the other hand, when I’m out today, I’m going to pick up some *Sarris’ Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels. : D *That’s one of our local chocolatiers. Good stuff.
    We in our house enjoy all the kinds of work you do. I hope 2010 is remembered as a good year for you.

  19. Writers block tip: On a separate sheet of paper, just start writing anything – Blog posts (this is made of win, incidentally), sports reports of the last game you watched, Wesley/Worf slash, haiku of the charge of the Light Brigade, wevs. Make it as insane as you want, actually, as insane as you possibly can (“At halftime, they reattached River’s arm with baling wire and shot him full of enough steroids to make his balls hit the vanishing point…”) This technique clears out the mental roadblocks, call ‘em enrons or whatever the goddammit scientologists call ‘em, doesn’t matter, and may also result in usable writing on its own.

  20. What ItsBecca said. I had the most amazing home made soft pretzel just a week or so ago at the Flying Dog brewery. They were serving it as a beer soaker-upper to go along with the samples.
    Holy crap, I’m serious, it was the best soft pretzel ever.
    And once you have ItsBecca’s method down, you can learn to make your own dough, which isn’t particularly hard. It’s just time consuming. I make my own dough for pizza and it kick’s Boboli’s ass.

  21. SuperPretzels? You can make them better.
    (1) Heat them for a shorter time than the instructions say. Heating according to instructions overcooks them.
    (2) Put a little water on your forefinger and spread it over the top surface of the pretzel before heating.

  22. PERFECT PRETZELS (6 steps):
    1) wet your fingertips
    2) flick water lightly across top of pretzel
    3) microwave to thaw so pretzel is barely pliable
    4) salt
    5) slap that sucker in the toaster oven
    6) enjoy!

  23. It’s really such a travesty when you get a version of something that you sublimely enjoy that just becomes the definition of suck. I had that happen with a steak the other day. It was just awful. It was as though it had decided that since it had been cooked to the consistency of shoe leather, that it may as well go the full nine and taste like feet. It made a little part of my soul cry until I had good steak again.

  24. From personal experience – as a general rule of thumb, don’t heat bread in the microwave. Heat it in some kind of oven, either convection or conduction. Only sorrow lies in the path of microwaved bread.

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