The marriage of two of Philadelphia's favorite foodstuffs was celebrated today with a lunchtime giveaway at Love Park.
Meet the Cheesesteak Pretzel: a handheld cheesesteak baked inside soft-pretzel dough.
More than 700 were handed out, to mostly positive reviews.
"This stuff is good," said Jermaine Bernard, 33, finishing his first while in line to get a second. The visitor from Los Angeles hoped to try for a third as well.
"Not two thumbs up, but one thumb up," said actuary Derek Eyler, 25, of Abington.
"I would like maybe a little bit more cheese," said real estate manager Mandy Davis, 27, of Center City. While a regular cheesesteak can be a meal, the Cheesesteak Pretzel, she said, was "more snack appropriate."
"It's kind of a strange combination," said victim advocate Kourtney Burris, 24, of South Philadelphia. "It's straight-up Philly, that's what it is."
The folks at the Philly Pretzel Factory introduced the Cheesesteak Pretzels this morning at almost every one of its more than 100 stores between New York State and Georgia.
The regular price is $3.50, or two for $6. (Get 2 for $4 with a coupon found on Page 17 of today's Daily News.)
Next Monday, every outlet will also serve them up for free between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
It's a twist on the chain's Pretzel Dogs and Spicy Pretzel Sausages - links poking out the ends of golden-brown tubes.
The Cheesesteak Pretzel, though, is totally enclosed, like a knish.
"It's good. . . . It's not messy like a regular cheesesteak," said steam mechanic Bill Toole, 45, of Woodbury, sitting in his truck outside the 16th and Sansom store this morning. "I'm not going to be wearing this all day."
"It's the exact taste" of a regular cheesesteak, said sanitation engineer Aaron Godwin, 18, of Swarthmore. "I like it. . . . There's a lot of cheese in it."
The aim was to add another lunchtime option, said Daniel DiZio, president of the chain, which sold 125 million soft pretzels last year.
A year and a half of research and testing went into the final product, which has American cheese, no onions, he said.
Fried onions were considered, and might be in a future version. The door's open on other possibilities, though don't expect to see a Hoagie Pretzel or salads, said DiZio, 39, who started selling pretzels on Roosevelt Boulevard at age 11.
For more information, go to the chain's website, www.phillypretzelfactory.com.