Monday, November 12, 2012

Auntie Anne's Pretzels

Mmm, soft pretzels.  Whenever I walk by Auntie Anne's inside the Westfield mall, the aroma of buttery pretzel is always so appealing.  Then I see the lines.  And then I remember that it was the dipping sauces that I always loved anyway.  And then I see Yoppi across the way, and beeline it for some froyo.

But, Auntie Anne's ran a promotion for the past 6 weeks, called "Sampling Saturdays", where they offered up samples of some signature item all day.  There was also a contest to win a trip, a code you could text message them to be entered in drawings, and scratch cards with instant winnings involved.  But the samples, that is clearly what I was there for!

The first few times, I went to the Westfield location, but it was too annoying to be worth it.  The lines were long, the staff weren't friendly, and they seemed to never actually be participating in Sampling Saturdays.  "Come back in 10 minutes" or "Not now" was the common response I got.  Then, I was in Macy's on a Saturday, and saw that there is a Auntie Anne's location there as well.  With no lines.  And pleasant staff.  On most times, they had the samples out and ready to go, and on the rare cases when they didn't, and I asked about Sampling Saturdays, they prepared them right there on the spot, super fresh and hot.  And when they didn't have any of the item available that they were supposed to be sampling, they offered me something else instead.  Such radically different service at both locations!

Anyway, for the most part, the pretzels were exactly what I remembered from the few times I had them as a child.  Warm, soft, buttery, and decent.  Not something you want to go out of your way for, but they can hit the spot.  If only they'd featured the dipping sauces for a Sampling Saturday!
Salted Pretzel Nugget.
This is the bite size version of their signature pretzel, served as a container full of little nuggets.  They are coated with butter and salt.  Soft, nice chew , lots of butter, nice big flakes of salt with good flavor.

Notes from previous tastings: Buttery, soft, salty, kinda delicious.
Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Nugget.
And another version of the nuggets, these are rolled in cinnamon and sugar, and are slightly larger.  There was a serious amount of cinnamon and sugar coating on these, that was sweet and tasty, but totally overwhelming.  I had no idea I was eating a pretzel rather than a donut hole.  A sweet little treat, but not particularly good.  Would not order.

Notes from previous tastings: Not flavorful enough, buttery, meh  [ Not very good, lots of cinnamon and sugar though. ] [ Soft, buttery, tons of cinnamon and sugar. ]  [ Not very good.  Not buttery, not flavorful, and just tons of the cinnamon and sugar.  I love cinnamon and sugar rolled donut holes, so I thought this would be good, but it just wasn't. ]
Almond Pretzel.
This is a regular butter pretzel, which is then rolled in toasted almond pieces.  It was warm, soft, buttery, and quite delicious.  The almond pieces added a really nice crunch, and some good flavor.  It also seemed like there was some sugar on here, as the exterior seemed caramelized.  Maybe it was just tons of butter.  My favorite of the pretzels!

Notes from previous tastings: Buttery, almonds add a good crunch.  Would get again.  [ Nice crunchy almonds on outside, buttery, pretzel itself kinda meh though. ]
Pretzel Dog.
A Nathan's hot dog, wrapped in pretzel.  The full size version is a ridiculous long jumbo dog.  It was really quite good.  The hot dog was moist and juicy, the pretzel hot and buttery.  I'd like to have some ketchup and mustard with it, but the buttery pretzel added plenty of flavor.  I was pretty surprised by how tasty this was, and assumed that I might have enjoyed it only because I was hungry, but I had one another time, and liked it just as much.  Hmm.

Notes from other tastings: This was really surprisingly good!  The hot dog was juicy and plump.  The pretzel was warm, hot, puffy, and buttery.  It all went together well.  So strange that I like these, but I do!

I've also tried the mini pretzel dog bites, which have tiny little mini hots inside, basically, pigs-in-a-blanket, made with pretzel as the wrapper.  Easily snackable, and just as good as the full size with a juicy little hot dog bite inside, and fluffy, buttery, delicious pretzel outside.
Honey Whole Grain.
This is their newest offering, I think an attempt to be slightly healthier, with "whole grains".  It certainly looked different from the standard pretzels, with a darker color.  It also did indeed taste heartier.  I didn't get any sweetness from the "honey" but I did like the more developed flavor.  It was also nicely buttery and coated in large flakes of salt.  Warm, chewy, salty ... not bad!
Strawberry Lemonade Mixer.
This was fairly refreshing, tart and sweet.  Not bad for a strawberry lemonade.
Wild Cherry Lemonade Mixer.
Not very good, particularly compared with the strawberry.  It was just sweet.  No tartness.  Did not like.
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