A Taste of Philly: Pretzel Pat 

Have you met Pretzel Pat, Pattie The Pretzel Man? He twists and bakes his pretzels just-as-fast-as-he-can, at A Taste of Philly, on the northwest corner of College Avenue and 42nd Street, across from the College Avenue branch of the Marion County Public Library.

You canâ ™t miss the sign out frontâ " three soft pretzels cost $2.00! And itâ ™s a deal, considering theyâ ™re heavier than a bowling ball and big enough to feed King Kongâ "Â� but delicate enough for grandmaâ ™s dentures.

Theyâ ™re authentic, Philly-style pretzels, delectable by themselves, but even moâ ™marvelous when you squirtâ ™em with specialty mustards â " Sweet Honey, Spicy Brown, Classic Yellow or Hot Jalapeño. The pretzels are handmade, containing only four natural ingredients: yeast, flour, water and salt. Theyâ ™re healthier than both doughnuts and bagels, and theyâ ™re bacteria resistant, due to the salt, making them a great flu-season fighter.

â I donâ ™t think, in all the history of pretzel making, that anybody has ever gotten sick from eating a pretzel,â � says Pretzel Pat, who learned the art of pretzel making during an apprenticeship on the streets of Philadelphia. As Pretzel Pat puts it, soft pretzels are a big deal out east. And each pretzel-twisting artist has his or her own unique modus operandi, or style and sense of aesthetics, largely defined by consistency. Each Original Soft Pretzel should taste, look, smell and sound exactly the same.

Going to see Pretzel Pat is a lot like visiting Mister Rogersâ ™ Neighborhood or getting lost in a Reading Rainbow Book. Itâ ™s fun, friendly and educational. Itâ ™s nostalgic, like traveling back in time to an â old-fashionedâ � era, where people actually cared about quality and service.

Maybe pretzels just remind me of being a kid, probably because I havenâ ™t been this excited about â ~em since little league, but I think Pretzel Patâ ™s pretzels are pretzels for grown-ups, because of their outstanding integrity, quality and substance. Each one has that same strong, crispy-baked-to-perfection-outer-layer, and warm, soft-n-chewy middle. The pretzelâ ™s salt tantalizes the tongue, while the sweet honey mustard does back-flips (like a Cirque-du-Soleil performance, complete with a sideshow by The Rockettes) all inside your mouth! Folks, this is high-art stuff.

Currently, about 80% of A Taste of Phillyâ ™s walk-in business comes from folks who have wandered across the street from la bibliotheca. The atmosphere is conducive to hanging-out, a few wooden stools sit below a countertop, next to the large, open (southbound) windows, which allow you to inhale the fresh winterâ ™s sunrays, making it an ideal place to pop-a-squat and watch life bustling about the city at lunchtime.

They also cater, shoveling out pretzels to schools, sporting events, business meetings, churches, luncheons and fundraisers. In addition to the Original Soft Pretzels, the menu includes Pretzel Nuggets, Pretzel Minis, Pretzel Braids, Cinnamon Twists and Sticks, Pretzel Dogs w/ Cheese (yummy), Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, the specialty mustards, with Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Jalapeño Cheese and Chocolate Sauce! A Pretzel Nugget Party Tray serves 18-22 people for $25.00.

You can go crazy by mixing it up with the jalapeño and chocolate sauce, or you can keep it simple, by getting an Original Soft Pretzel: 1 for 75 cents, 3 for $2.00, or feed the neighborhood with a dozen for 7 bucks. Seriously, these soft pretzels drizzled in sweet honey mustard are second only to a hot kiss on the first date.

Go say hello to Pretzel Pat, and congratulate him on the birth of his 5-month-old baby girl and his upcoming marriage, December 26th. Heâ ™s a family man, with a quality, nutritious product, at an affordable price. When I asked him how he got into the business, he smiled and replied, â You know, I just really love pretzels.â �

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