For all we know

So I called Auntie Anne’s to find out if they use lye to make their pretzels and the woman said yes. But when I pressed for more information—what percent solution? dipped or sprayed?—she said she’d need to refer me to one of the food scientists.

The food scientist called me back yesterday. She said that whether or not they used lye was a proprietary issue so she couldn’t tell me.

“You mean you can’t tell your customers what the actual pretzel ingredients are?” I asked incredulously.

“No,” she said, in her measured, I’m-practically-a-computer voice. “Unless you have some allergy that you want to ask me about specifically.”

“Um, are people ever allergic to sodium hydroxide?”

She hesitated, then, “No, not that I’m aware of.”

“Well, okay then. Thanks.” And I hung up, disgusted and peeved.

So there you have it, straight from the food scientist’s mouth: the ingredient list on commercial food products is a bunch of bull malarky. They might be dunking all our food in poison, for all we know.

*To get the rest of the story, go here.

Tonight’s supper: soft pretzels, apples, cheese, beer (none of us like beer, but still, pretzels need beer, right?), and ice cream. What are you having?


  • Mozbo

    Bye the way, the pretzels are most likely dipped, as when you brush them, you can very visibly see where the lye solution has reacted with the dough surface, and where it hasn't. For an even coating (crust), the pretzel would need to immersed, not sprayed or brushed.

  • Mozbo

    Lye is only a "poison" if you ingest too much of it. That can be said about a LOT of things…

    Lye is an alkali, not a poison. It is in many things, from soap to toothpaste (yes, toothpaste!). The main thing is to have it in a diluted enough strength to not be harmful. It gives pretzels their distinctive taste and texture because it breaks down the oils on the surface that it contacts. That's why you only brush them or boil them in the lye solution, it's not an ingredient.

    The mixture is 1 teaspoon (1/3 oz.) per quart (32 oz.) of water.
    The pretzels are not left in the water long enough for any significant amount to be absorbed by the dough, it just is on the surface.

    Baking soda works, but really is not the same. Too much baking soda can be "poisonous" too, you know…It's just a matter of proper handling and usage.

  • Anonymous

    We had popcorn, chips and salsa and apple dumplings.

    I think it's great that one person told you yes and the next person said that they couldn't tell you! Thanks for checking into it for the rest of us. Crystal

  • Anonymous

    I thought ingredients were public information…isn't there a law about that?

    I think we're having cereal or something for dinner. It's pathetic, I know, but it's our destiny tonight. 😉

  • teekaroo

    I guess I can't blame them for not wanting to share that they dip our food in poison. I'm sure they don't want any freak outs.

    I'm going to disgust my son and make pasta with mushrooms tonight. He hates them, so he can just eat noodles.

  • Marie M.

    Poo on Auntie Ann's. Love their pretzels, though. Why don't you send a print-out of this post to their Chief Honcho? Or try talking to one of their employees at the mall? Or maybe their bound by confidentiality contracts?

    What about root-beer? Even root-beer-floats –one of my all time summer treats. Dinner tonight? Hmmm. Still thinking. But for breakfast I just had Crepe Suzette's. Yep. I'm out of food, haven't been to the store in eons. I just happened to have sugar, butter, Cointreau, oranges and some not-so-terrific stale ready-made crepes. It's amazing how a little butter, sugar and Cointreau can turn stale crepes into something yummy.

Leave a Comment