Monday, May 26, 2008

Pretzel twists?

I was eating some Rold Gold Honey Wheat pretzel twists this afternoon (interesting review here; that might be an interesting site for future reference - I didn't even know there was a "snack review web site" - but given my own blog, I shouldn't be so surprised, eh?), and I noticed something: the twists are twisted wrong. That is, take a look at the picture to the right: the twists are not all the same direction! The two twists on the left are clockwise (left-hand threaded) around the pretzel (top to bottom, "top" being at the index-finger/thumb side of my hand), but the one on the right is counter-clockwise (right-hand threaded) top to bottom. Now, you might say, "Who cares? Shut up, you silly person! Quit thinking about these meaningless things!" And you'd probably be right. But my question is regarding economics: why go to the expense of creating the pretzel twists in two directions? I mean, wouldn't that require a completely separate, second setup for creating the twists? I can't think of any way to "accidentally" get a different twist direction. And besides, there are significant amounts of each twist type; when I first noticed this, I found about 2-1 ratio of clockwise to counter-clockwise twists. My point, really, is this: it doesn't really matter to the eater of the pretzel - the taste is the same regardless of the twist direction - so why go to the expense (which presumably would be transferred to us, the consumer) of making a second twist direction? Is there some benefit that I don't realize? Does the pretzel twisting machine have multiple twisters, and having them twist opposite directions nullifies any potential vibration issues and allows them to run at a higher speed without the need for counter-rotating balance shafts (like are commonly found in inline four cylinder engines to promote smoothness and cancel vibration)? How fast do pretzel twisters twist pretzels anyway? Are pretzels and cookies related? Why don't we have chocolate-chip twists? Would the chocolate chips still be molten and gum up (or "chocolate up") the works? Are licorice twists twisted in both directions? Are they made using the same twisting technology as pretzel twists? Why don't they sell Marathon Bars anymore (I loved those, but didn't marry one, of course)? Are Curly Wurly (which I found while looking up a link for the Marathon Bard) as good, and do their "Ice Brix" shipping really keep the candy from melting in transit?

All these questions, all from eating pretzel twists. Oh, yeah, and they're pretty good.

I wonder, though... kids don't (typically) like vegetables. My youngest son, for instance, said, "I don't like this white thing" (referring to cauliflower on his plate) this evening at dinner. I wonder... chocolate covered cauliflower. Wouldn't that be a good idea? Chocolate coated veggies, or hard candy shell coated veggies... what a great idea for getting kids to eat their healthy foods! Disguise them as candy! Here's a sample menu:
  • Jello-looking tomato or chicken soup
  • Chocolate covered mixed veggies
  • Hard-candy-coated kernel corn
  • Mashed potatoes could be colored (for fun) or made to look like vanilla ice cream
  • Fillets (could be meat, fowl, or fish) coated with a thin layer of fruit-snack (you know, similar to Fruit Roll-Ups)
Oh well... maybe not. If you care, I've turned myself into an angry, purple M&M with a mohawk and bunny slippers (if you want to be an M&M yourself, go here - but note that you'll want to turn off your pop-up blocker or pop-up blocking settings in your browser before selecting "download" - or you'll have to wait for it to process twice before you can save your M&M picture). Note the cell phone in my hand: I think that I must have attempted to check my GMail on my phone and found it wasn't working again, and that's why I'm frustrated and angry. So, if anyone wants to contribute a Sony Xperia X1 to alleviate my anger, I'd be happy to accept. (Actually, I'm not particularly angry at the moment, other perhaps than the fact that both my DVD player and my PS2 don't seem to want to play the movie we rented from Blockbuster; I am happy that American Gladiators is back on again... what a great show!)

OK, later, all...


Dean Lusk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dean Lusk said...

(Paragraph formatting was hosed up on my original comment)

Pheidippides, The Marathon Bard (I wonder if he sang his message...?):

The marathon race commemorates the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield near Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C., bringing news of a Greek victory over the Persians. Pheidippides collapsed and died at the end of his historic run, thereby setting a precedent for dramatic conclusions to the marathon.

(Above info courtesy of the Columbia Track Club's website --

I think the twist direction is an intentional calibration thing at the pretzel factory. Multiple machines which can be set for different directions.

Or it could be cheap hired labor that's not following the ISO job card correctly...

Christy said...

Maybe you're just holding some of the pretzels upside down.

Tony M said...

The pretzels are probably automated production, so I don't know if there could be a human influence on the twist direction or not. (And thanks for the info about marathons... although I'd much rather eat the chocolatey-caramel kind than run in one!)

I tried turning the pretzel around, but the twist direction doesn't depend on which side is "up" - it is still clockwise/counterclockwise regardless of which way's up. Think about a screw: it doesn't matter whether which direction the head of the screw is facing, the threads are still oriented clockwise or counterclockwise - the threading doesn't change simply by turning the screw over. That's my analogy for today... gotta run, late for work!