Decisions, decisions. That’s the conundrum when visiting Wetzel's Pretzels Twisted Kitchen at its headquarters in Pasadena, California, and choosing among the concoctions the food stylist and marketing team are whipping up.
Will it be Fruity Pebbles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Maple & Bacon, part of a flight of pretzels that CEO Jennifer Schuler calls part of its “preakfast” line (pretzels for breakfast, obviously).
Or how about S’Mores? There’s so much chocolate, graham cracker bits and marshmallowy drizzle to put the taster into an instant sugar coma, complete with very sticky fingers afterward that hinder the ability to help FT’s favorite LA-based photographer, Scott Witter, as he sets up for the photo shoot.
Schuler, chief executive at Wetzel's Pretzels since January and the subject of an upcoming story in Franchise Times, uses the Twisted Kitchen to generate social media buzz about the brand and also come up with new ways to present pretzels that draw the Instagram crowd.
Only about one every couple of years will make the cut and be rolled out to stores, because she has a rigorous standard: Pretzels must sell in high enough volume to make the effort worthwhile and they cannot flummox the teams in the stores when they try to assemble.
“Is this too fiddly,” is a question she’ll ask people who have to assemble it, and if so, it’s deep-sixed.
Finally we get to the savory flight, which is right up my alley, especially the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos pretzel, which makes the mouth burn in that fabulous, stuff-your-face way you remember from your youth, when Cheetos could be dinner, washed down with Tab. Dyno-mite.
Thanks to Deanna Durst, Wetzel’s marketing director who made with the team sample after sample for us to try and even offered to send us home with our favorite, and Josh Levitt, the outside PR man who hooked us up for an interesting story on food innovation.