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Super Pretzels

By MARTIN HINTZ

March 2014

The humble pretzel is riding a new wave of popularity, a boon to Milwaukee’s Miller Baking Co., where pretzel products have been produced since 1920. Last fall Miller opened a new facility in the Granville Industrial Park to keep up with demand for its Pretzilla soft pretzel buns, favorites at the Wisconsin State Fair, Sendik’s grocery stores and restaurants such as Mader’s and Stack’d Burger Bar.

Miller bakers work ’round the clock seven days a week, cranking out as much as 15,000 pounds of dough each day. People love pretzels because they conjure up a pleasant association with a tailgate party, a ball game or a family gathering, says Brian Miller, whose father bought the company in 1996 (though it’s just a coincidence they share the same name as the original owners). "Pretzels are connected to social events, so it’s a natural that people enjoy them," Miller says.

Following are a few gathering spots for pretzel lovers:
 

Leff’s Lucky Town

Two sizes of pretzels are served at this popular Tosa sports bar: baseball mitt and foot-in-diameter. The latter, a Miller Bakery product, is called Leff’s Big Ass Pretzel: "where if you don’t have a big ass now, you will after eating this one," according to owner Chris Leffler. Since he opened nearly 19 years ago, Leffler has always featured pretzels on the menu. They are particularly popular around Oktoberfest, when Leff’s hosts a pretzel-eating competition. Leff’s "normal" pretzel is only $2 during his 3-6 p.m. happy hour, weekdays. 7208 W. State St. (414) 258-9886
 

Miller Park

The ballpark has been selling pretzels since the County Stadium days, with DNC Sportservice currently selling both a standard size pretzel and a jumbo at various stands around the park. The stadium sells more than 115,000 pretzels a season, more per game when temperatures are cooler. Mustard is available at the condiment stations and nacho cheese is provided at all pretzel locations. Jumbo pretzels are offered with cinnamon sugar, sesame garlic and Parmesan toppings, in addition to Kosher salt. 1 Brewers Way (414) 902-4400
 

Old German Beer Hall

For a real German pretzel, the Old German Beer Hall imports Munich-baked monsters by the case, selling about 200 pretzels a week. The wheat in the pretzel is the same used as in the hall’s Hofbräu beer. Each Teutonic pretzel weighs 10 ounces and is considerably bigger than one’s head, enough for two to three people or one hefty Bürgermeister. 1009 N. Old World Third St. (414) 226-2728
 

Three Lions Pub

If you thought the Three Lions Pub used to peddle giant pretzels, you should see the new pretzel of all pretzels. The Miller Baking Co.’s Pretzilla is up to 18 inches in diameter, or, as experienced server Brittagh Flynn says, they are bigger than from the tip of her elbow to the tip of her hand. "And I’m a giant," she laughs. Three Lions serves about 70 of these beasts a week, at $12.95 each. Three sauces are included: a spicy German mustard, the housemade nacho cheese and a dynamite cheddar Mornay, a popular beer cheese. 4515 N. Oakland Ave. (414) 763-6992
 

Paddy’s Pub

A serious conversationalist and/or Guinness drinker needs fortification such as nibble-sized hard pretzels to keep up with the "craic," the good times, that keep this pub rockin’. Owners Patty and Orlen (Woody) Wood host live music every week and liberally pass around what seem to be bottomless bowls of pretzels, as well as M&Ms and other snacks. While munching, guests also take in the old-time movies occasionally shown on a first-floor wall, party at a concert on the second floor or lounge outside in the expansive patio. Look down at the bar or tabletop and pretzels magically appear. After all, this is an Irish pub and the leprechauns certainly have been baking all night. 2339 N. Murray Ave. (414) 223-3496





 

This story ran in the March 2014 issue of: