There is no God.
Or rather, the God we currently have now inexplicably hates pretzel rolls. Atheistic blanket statements aside, I'm pretty sure that part of my life's mission here on earth is to find the best pretzel roll man can possibly make. No pressure, though. I've been through frozen pretzels stuffed with more crap than Adam Richman, pretzel hot dog buns loaded with expensive edible accoutrements, pretzels topped with crustaceans, and disappointing pretzel rolls. I'm all pretzeled out and I still can't find the perfect bread.
To me, the ideal pretzel roll has a foot in both worlds, despite being a freakish monster belonging in neither. It is kissed with a hint of tinny, metallic goodness on its crust and is almost certainly boiled prior to baking, to ensure an airy, yet chewy inner surface that is porous enough to accommodate to even the gooiest of toppings, but yields to a firm bite without vomiting its contents all over the plate. Rock salt mandatory, toasting optional. An idyllic one-two punch at home with ham, mustard, and little else, or with a gluttonous number of toppings. Needless to say, they are freaking perfect, elevating a mere sandwich to a more complex and Bavarian plane. And to date, I had to rely on luck and intense menu research to find these little suckers. Until...not.
Yes, it looks like I meant "now" but it's not "now" because I have to wait. Yes, I peed myself when Arnold's came out with these two days ago and my mom brought them home. And no, these are not the droids we're looking for. Sigh. Despite showing a promising amount of homemade homeliness, these just weren't up to snuff. Six rolls to a bag, with 190 calories each, they appear to be hefty and even slightly irregular from roll to roll, offering charming variations in the waffled base and slits on top. Quite a promising start.
Unadorned, they were bland. Adorned simply, the pretzel's natural charms were squelched. Suffocated under the weight of a stupid amount of toppings, they disintegrated. God damn it. We were so close, Arnold's. We could have had it all. Unfortunately, these just didn't cut it. To the touch, they are light and airy, a little too light. White bread light and Vanilla Ice white with a squishy and uniformly bubbled core. A small bite yielded a sweetly flavored crumbly interior and thin, pliable crust with a hint of alkaline tang from the baking soda. It wasn't chewy at all and had the texture of a thin slice of sandwich bread rather than a crusty roll. Most of the salinity was overpowered by the breadiness as there was no other supplemental salt source, like a scattering of rock salt on top of the roll, to boost its flavor.
The least offensive way to eat this is with a little salt and butter, much like my bagels. This way accentuates the pretzel's natural flavor the most, but still falls prey to the plain bready texture. There wasn't enough irregular definition in the bread's cell wall to allow the butter to melt into any nooks and crannies, and it floated on the top after melting, barely penetrating the surface and leaving the top part soggy and the bottom part flavorless. Were it not for the appeal of the salt coaxing the tinniness out, I wouldn't bother eating this as toast.
As a sandwich, I figured this would be a little more successful. And what better way to do it than to do a balls-to-the-wall crazy condiment orgy on a bun? Do or do not, there is no try, after all. The Italian Job featured condiments best suited to a good bun with no margin of error. If it was a good pretzel roll, it would work. Anything else would disintegrate under the weight of so many sauces. With hot pepper relish, mustard, mayo, Tabasco, ham, American cheese, mango and ginger Stilton 'cause we fancy, arugula, fennel slivers, and freshly cracked black pepper, the Italian Job ain't nothin' to muck with.
And unfortunately, after I removed this ornamental steak knife, all hell broke loose. This is not the right bun for the job, folks. Not in the slightest. See that distended yellow-hued smear on the starboard side of the sandwich? That's the sauce seeping through the bread, sponged up by the fluffy interior. Arnold's, you are a failure.
Bam, she falls apart as soon as I look at her. Another one for the vaults. Successful as a roll, perhaps, but as a pretzel, you're an absolute shame up there with Glitter, Gilbert and Sullivan, and the InstaHang. Looks like it's back to the drawing boards for the time being. I appreciated the initiative on part of Arnold's, but for God's sake, if you're going to go out on a limb, try not to make the product so utterly unappealing that people won't ever want to eat its inspiration again.
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