I havenâ€™t had much luck with giant soft pretzels lately. The most recent incident involved a soft pretzel at a baseball game which had most likely been fashioned out of brine-cured leather and sawdust then stamped with a $5.95 price tag. Another episode involved the greasiest, most stale-tasting mall pretzel ever created, which tasted like its main ingredients were leaden biscuit dough and the leftover grease scooped from the bottom of a fast food fry vat.
There are clearly some pretzel standards that were not being followed here. Sure, they were hot. Sure, they were twisted. But they werenâ€™t pretzels. They made me wish there was some sort of graduate school for pretzel-making. Most of these pretzel vendors understood the basics, but they really needed a more intensive education in order to perfect their soft-pretzel-making skills. Crust brown and crackly? Check. Innards hot, light and fluffy? Check. Salt applicator well-calibrated? Check. Bam, Masters degree!
I know some people really only use giant soft pretzels as a delivery mechanism for nacho cheese, ranch dressing, melted butter, or icing, and they couldnâ€™t care less about how it tastes by itselfâ€¦but I really like soft pretzels as an actual snack food, so it disappoints me when they turn out horribly. Little did I know that Hot Pockets would revive my love of hot, salty soft pretzel goodness. Theyâ€™ve made a new line of stuffed sandwiches called Pretzel Bread Sandwiches. So far, there are two varieties: Queso Chicken and Cheddar Bacon Melt. The results were top-notch. Looks like someone matriculated at the National Conservatory of Soft Pretzels.
The Cheddar Bacon Melt is just as face-meltingly delish as it sounds. The melted cheddar cheese blends well with the generous chunks of bacon and tomatoes. I donâ€™t know if the bacon is nitrate-free, but this is a Hot Pocket, guys. The bacon itself is slathered with creamy sauce, so it clearly doesnâ€™t matter. The Queso Chicken is also a seriously tasty sandwich. The grilled white meat chicken breast is tender, and the cheddar cheese mixed with fire-roasted poblano peppers is a savory combination. And they are not kidding about the jalapeÃ±os â€“ each stuffed sandwich contains large, chopped pieces that really turn up the heat. I donâ€™t know what I was expecting, but I certainly wasnâ€™t expecting the mega-spiciness these guys turned out. They would get an A+ in JalapeÃ±o School.
But Iâ€™m burying the lead here. What you really want to hear about is the pretzel bread crust. Letâ€™s just say that the creators of this pretzel crust must have built their graduate thesis around this recipe. It is exactly right for this sandwich. Meaning, itâ€™s soft and crusty and salty, and once cooked, emits the distinctive aroma of freshly baked pretzel dough. The pretzel bread perfectly complements the creamy cheese in both sandwiches as well.
The only area where the pretzel bread crust gets a big fat F is ingredient seepage. The extremely hot insides can sometimes still ooze out during microwaving, so the somewhat firmer and sturdier pretzel bread crust doesnâ€™t offer a solution to that little problem. But a little problem it is, especially when youâ€™re chowing down on cheesy/bacon-y or cheesy/spicy deliciousness. So what if your fingers get a little burned? Try pursuing a Masters degree in Grubbinâ€™, not Whining.
(Nutrition Facts â€“ 1 sandwich â€“ Queso Chicken – 280 calories, 10 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 790 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, 13 grams of protein, 6% vitamin A, 20% calcium, and 15% iron. Cheddar Bacon Melt – 320 calories, 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 810 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 13 grams of protein, 6% vitamin A, 25% calcium, and 25% iron.)
Item: Hot Pockets Pretzel Bread Sandwiches (Queso Chicken and Cheddar Bacon Melt)
Size: 2 sandwiches
Purchased at: HyVee
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Queso Chicken)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Cheddar Bacon Melt)
Pros: Enjoying pretzels as more than a delivery mechanism for gooey dips. Generous chunks of bacon. Getting an A+ in JalapeÃ±o School. Earning a Masters degree in Pretzel dynamics.
Cons: Ingredient seepage. Overpriced pretzel creations from vendors who believe pretzel = twisted anything. Whining. Grad school loans that cannot be paid off with hot, delicious soft pretzels.