Okay - back to the ChocoTour! On the morning of the 3rd, I went to the York Barbell Company. I'm a pretty avid weightlifter (hey - I gotta work off all this chocolate somehow!) and I wanted to see the company's Weightlifting Hall of Fame. Plus I just think it's interesting to go to the source of things. I've been lifting with York plates for years and now I know where they come from.
This sign is great - the weightlifter rotates! I love it! They have some fascinating exhibits in the hall of fame - strong man stuff, etc. From there I went to Lititz to the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery founded in 1861 - supposedly the oldest commercial pretzel bakery in the US. It was neat to see the old pretzel ovens and you kind of make your own pretzel. You roll some dough and make a pretzel shape. But you don't get to bake it or see it baked. But, hey, it was fun and there were samples! Oh - and yes, there was a gift shop. I even spent money at the York Barbell factory store! God help me
The pretzel originally started out as a sweet - a cinnamon and sugar concoction. They still sell some of those - call them Cinnamon Sticks (cute!) and they are pretty good. Taste like cinnamon toast to me. And they have chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels. And just plain peanut butter filled pretzels. All are fabulous!! And way too addictive - the pretzel, chocolate, peanut butter combo should probably be illegal. The Surgeon General should step in.
Side note here - I grabbed a HUGE tin of milk and white chocolate covered pretzels at the Utz factory (the chocolate came from the Wolfgang factory - how cool is that?) to take to my friend Karen's house. After all - I couldn't show up empty handed! These were terrific - fresh from the factory makes all the difference. And guess what? The ones that went the fastest were the white chocolate ones!! So there, chocolate snobs - white chocolate deserves a place at the chocolate table. I pine for the Zero bar.
Another side note - summer is an idiotic time to take a Chocotour. As I bought chocolate, I had to carry it with me everywhere. I couldn't leave it in my car - it would melt! As it was, my chocolate covered pretzels melted a bit and got stuck together when they cooled. Part of what makes chocolate have such great "mouthfeel" is its low melting temperature. Chocolate melts at around 72 degrees - can you imagine what would happen to it in a hot car? As it was, everything I have looks a bit messy. But a little melting didn't stop us - we could pry those pretzels apart - we're no food snobs!
I am quickly becoming a food tourist. I have to try whatever an area is known for - it just makes the trip so much more fun! People love to talk about their local specialties. And, among other things, PA is known for pretzels and chocolate. Pretzels were actually first invented by monks sometime between the 5th and 7th centuries. The shape of the pretzel was made to resemble a person's arms in prayer. Who knew?
There are hard pretzels (and REALLY hard pretzels) and soft pretzels. Pretzels come in all shapes and sizes and coatings and fillings. They have an interesting history and they are relatively low in fat and calories. There is so much more to EVERYTHING than we know. We eat pretzels and don't give them a second thought. Think how many things (and people) you interact with on a daily basis and how little you know about most of them. Going deeper into life instead of just coasting along the surface makes it so much richer and more enjoyable. Try it this summer - spend more time listening to someone than talking. Ask them about their childhood or their dreams - go a little deeper. If you take a vacation, learn about something on the trip - about anything that strikes your fancy. Ask the waitress what her favorite dish is or how the place got its name. Notice the world around you and interact with it - don't just sleepwalk through it.
Next stop - Wilbur Chocolates! http://www.wilburbuds.com/docs/store.html