A new culinary combo - the Cheesesteak Pretzel
Mustard or ketchup? Plain or extra cheese? That's the new dilemma posed by Monday's rollout of a culinary combination of two of Philadelphia's legendary foodstuffs:
Mustard or ketchup? Plain or extra cheese?
That's the new dilemma posed by Monday's rollout of a culinary combination of two of Philadelphia's legendary foodstuffs:
The Cheesesteak Pretzel.
The hybrid, like a Hot Pocket with golden-brown pretzel dough, hit more than 100 Philly Pretzel Factory stores in the morning.
At noon, freebies were offered at LOVE Park - along with packets of ketchup. A line of more than 100 people quickly formed - and stayed that long for about an hour - as samplers started biting or tearing off chunks of pretzel, beef, and American cheese.
"It's straight-up Philly, that's what it is," said victim advocate Kourtney Burris, 24, of South Philadelphia, who added, "It's kind of a strange combination."
But dissenters were a minority.
"Incredible! It's delicious," said collections worker Joe Bock, 42, who drove from Marlton to be part of history - perhaps unaware that the sandwiches were also available at South Jersey stores for $3.50 each (two for $6), which is cheaper than paying a bridge toll.
Next Monday, every outlet will also serve Cheesesteak Pretzels for free between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Bock preferred his with ketchup - putting it directly on the steak after taking bites - but real estate manager Mandy Davis, 27, of Center City, said, "I like it plain."
"I would like maybe a little bit more cheese," she added.
"I think it's a snack size, not a meal size," said actuary Theresa Jenkins, 23, of Bensalem.
"Two would make a meal," said fellow actuary Bill Loth, 28, of Norristown.
Might be nice to have some extra cheese to dip it in, he added. Actually, little cups of cheese have long been available at the stores, for topping pretzels.
Even the pigeons got in on the act, pecking up fallen bits around the plaza.
Outside the Sansom Street store in the morning was Bill Toole, 45, of Woodbury. "It's not messy like a regular cheesesteak," said the steam mechanic, sitting in his truck. "I'm not going to be wearing this all day."
The product is a twist on the Philly Pretzel Factory's Pretzel Dogs and Spicy Pretzel Sausages - links poking out the ends of golden-brown tubes.
But people can eat only so many franks, said chain president Daniel DiZio, on hand at the LOVE Park giveaway. So, for a year and a half, a lot of development and testing went into creating the Cheesesteak Pretzel.
Tastings were conducted from Penn State to New York State to Georgia, he said.
A fried-onion version was considered and might join the menu in the future, he said. But, no, don't expect to see a Hoagie Pretzel, said DiZio, 39, who was 11 when he started selling soft pretzels on Roosevelt Boulevard.
The chain, cofounded in 1998 with Len Lehman, DiZio's roommate at East Stroudsburg University, sold 125 million soft pretzels last year, DiZio said.
The sandwich "would be great if it was bigger," said Cheltenham's John Mostiller 3d, who plays Elmo at the zoo.
"Weight-wise, enough!" said Gagliano "Dags" Mason, 45, of West Philadelphia, putting his hand on his rounded belly.
The calorie count is 340, with 70 calories from fat, according to the official reckoning. It lists 46 grams of carbohydrates, 23 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fat, half of it saturated.