Big businesses read little blogs!

Or at least that’s what the Auntie Anne woman said when she called me last week.

Well, she didn’t say it exactly like that. She said it more like, Hi! I’m so-and-so, director of such-and-such from the Auntie Anne Pretzel Company and I saw the blog post that you wrote on Saturday!

I don’t think she could’ve sounded more sweet and bouncy if she’d been eating a Snickers bar and jumping on a trampoline.

She proceeded to tell me that so-and-so, director of such-and-such, was also in the office with her and, if it was okay with me, they’d like to put me on speaker phone—the door was shut—would that be okay?

I said sure, and we proceeded to have a congenial three-way chat about pretzels and poison. Turns out, the first person I talked to on the phone a couple weeks back gave me false information and the second person gave me no information. Those two things weren’t a problem—at least not for Auntie Anne’s—but then I went and blogged about it, and well, that just wasn’t good PR for Auntie Anne’s. Not that they said that, of course. In fact, they were most gracious, never once requesting that I remedy the false information I’d unwittingly posted about them. And as a final conciliatory touch, they offered to send me a complimentary box of do-it-yourself Auntie Anne’s pretzels, yippee!

Oh, I almost forgot! I suppose I ought to share what I learned about whether or not Auntie Anne’s uses lye with their pretzels. That’s kind of the point of this post, after all.

Well, the cheery ladies were very clear with me: they do NOT use lye. No sodium hydroxide/poison/caustic soda—none whatsoever—in their pretzels. (They do, however, dip their pretzels in a baking soda solution.)

So there you have it. The mystery of the mall pretzels has been solved. They are poison-free! Yay!

Not that I actually think that’s a good thing. I happen to adore the more complicated flavor of a poisoned pretzel. But at least now the truth is out and all you mall pretzel eaters can rest assured that your shop-till-you-drop snack hasn’t been dipped in any toxic substances.

Which means, if you want to experience an authentic German pretzel, you’ll have to don some goggles and gloves and make your own!

This same time, years previous: caramelized onions


  • John C Weimer

    Baked baking soda is OK for a home cook, but a real pretzel should be dipped in lye. I don’t know why you’re calling them poisonous because there’s no poison issues whatsoever when cooked correctly it’s all in the science look it up. Not only that, but aunt Annie’s is just basically salted butter bread disguising itself as a pretzel by its shape. Aunt Annie’s is not a pretzel, there is nothing about it that resembles or tastes like what a pretzel should be. If you love them that’s fine, but just call them aunt Annie’s salted butter bread as they do not lift up to the lofty moniker that is a real pretzel.

  • Anonymous

    You can tell Auntie Anne's doesn't use lye. They don't have the pretzely shell on them, plus there is a copycat recipe out there that uses baking soda and it turns out just like AA.

  • Anonymous

    For Anonymous: DEC 12, 2011

    While the advice and information you provided was sound, the spelling errors are distracting. It seems as though you are trying very hard to sound intelligent.

    It's just something to think about.

    Justine Eversoll

  • Anonymous

    Websters Definition. Poison a : a substance that through its chemical action usually kills, injures, or impairs an organism.

    Anything can be poinson used incorrectly. A local woman dies her ein orlando last year from Water poisoning (yes, from drinking too much water all at once, it flushed needed salts from her systmem and she died) Straight undiluted lye is a poison. It will burn through skin and throat and stumach and do all the nastie things listed above. That said, when you eat a pretzel you are NOT eating anything poisonous. The lye has been diluted, heated, nutralized by contact with acidic ingrediants and otherwise altered to the point that it does not "through its chemical action kills, injures, or impair an organism" It is perfectally safe, as safe as table salt anyway…. or water. (though I would not recomend drinking the lye solution. That would be considered a poison.)

    Should you know what you are dealing with when you use Lye, absolutly! Do you need to be careful with the lye solution you are using? Of course, but you better know what you are dealing with before you use that gas stove too.

  • Anonymous

    Auntie Anne's doesn't use lye but that's because their pretzels don't try to be authentic pretzels. They mask that by covering them in butter so you can't tell that you're really not eating true pretzels. And also you shouldn't be buying lye in such a concentrated form. The lye should be a food grade lye and there is a difference!

  • Mavis

    Note to self:

    Call the Royal Hawaiian resort in Hawaii…

    Ask about their 7 night getaway package with breakfast in bed and daily massages…

    Blog about the phone call…

    Wait patiently by the phone…

    Get a FREE 7 night package to Hawaii with FREE breakfast, daily massages and hopefully a luau…

    JJ… you are a genius… I'll let you know if it works 🙂

  • Karen

    I don't think it's that crazy that this got back to Auntie Anne's. Auntie Anne's was started by the Beiler family, I believe. Their daughter was a couple of years ahead of me at EMHS. I would assume some of your readers are connected…

  • Margo

    oh this is sooooo funny! I would (sighhh) love to eat a delicious soft pretzel now. The mall is closed. You are too far away. I don't have any lye. What will I DO?

  • Kaytee

    I feel much better now. I love Auntie Anne's pretzels and I would hate to know I've been poisoned by them.

    And that's so funny they contacted you after your post. They must have some super search engines that turn up any trace of their name on the internet. Silly companies. But super cool for you!

    • melodie Davis

      Hate to quash anyone's bubble but most companies (ours included) subscribe to Google Alerts so that any time their company name is mentioned online, they get an email giving the location.url etc. You can do it to for Mama's Minutia and see who is mentioning you where! It works pretty well, doesn't catch all things buried deep in databases, but I think it works pretty well in picking up stuff on blog posts.

      But, most interesting stuff!

  • Mama Pea

    I've never had an Auntie Anne pretzel (nor heard of them) but I'm glad they don't use lye making them. And I wish you wouldn't either. I'm funny that way. Lye is what makes lutefisk smell and taste so bad, you know. Goggles and face mask aside, it's poison. Be a good girl now and trade it in for some baking soda.

    • Anonymous

      I'm sorry, but lutefisk stinks because it's rotting fish. I know because my sister in law's dad is one of them Norwegians. Maybe the lye helps rot the fish, but it's a fish jello you end up with. And crazy people still eat it. -Stacey E.

  • Marie M.

    I'm guessing the point of the phone call is: 1. They actually read food blogs — at least your wonderful one.
    2. They want a free ad for the Auntie Ann pretzel mix.
    3. No lye in Auntie Ann's.

    JJ: Have you tried using a baking soda dip? On the pretzels, of course. Please tell Auntie Ann I love their pretzels and I'm spitting mad their shop in the Stonestown Mall (San Francisco, CA) is closed! Now I'll have to travel to JJ's house to eat some great soft pretzels.

  • Anonymous

    At least someone is paying attention to your blog…right? It's kinda funny that it does no good to call a company, you actually have to publicly write about them. I'll sleep better knowing my pretzels don't have poison in them. 😉

    Actually we don't have an Auntie Anne's around here anyway. Oh well.

  • Zoë

    They don't lie. My cousin worked (still works?) for Auntie Anne's. They don't have to don goggles or wear gloves. The solution they use is sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

    Just yesterday my aunt Krista set us all straight on this fact.

    Bugger. Now I want a pretzel.

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