I’ve been sat on these pretzels for a while. Not literally of course. I was kindly sent them by some PR people a long, long time ago (but not in a galaxy far, far away) and then didn’t review them for ages. Why? Well, as I’ve spoken about before, I don’t have a single place where I keep all of my snacks to review…meaning, occasionally, things can get ‘misplaced’. Then I found them, and thought I’d launch a new format- The Snack Review’s Savoury Saturday! Yep, these pretzels from Penn State were once lost, but now they’re found. And going in my belly.
I got sent three ‘sharing’ size bags to taste, each flavour variety coming in a hefty 175g bag. I haven’t actually reviewed any savoury pretzels to date so Penn State have the undoubted (ha!) honour of becoming the first pretzel review on here. I did review Cadbury’s attempt at chocolate covered pretzels a while ago, but anything coated in chocolate ceases to be a savoury snack.
Penn State pretzels are easily the widest available pretzel brand in Britain. Not that that is saying a lot- we don’t have a huge pretzel market in Britain really. Which is odd, because we LOVE crisps, and pretzels are really very similar when you think about it. But whereas Americans and Canadians seem to like their pretzels to snack on, the pretzel selection at even our largest of British supermarkets is confined to a tiny shelf or two amidst mountains of crisps/nuts/popcorn.
First up, I was sent their Sea Salted variety. This is always the flavour I tend to judge a brand on- the simple salted flavour is very basic, and if a company can’t get the basics right then normally it isn’t even worth trying their more elaborate and fancy offerings.
Penn State’s Sea Salted pretzels smelt extremely salty indeed. Besides that, there was also a pleasant, wheaty kind of thing going on too. A good start.
And they were decent tasting. Not exactly exploding with flavour, but salty snacks never are really- salt is more of a relaxing taste rather than something to knock your socks off. Penn State have produced a nice-ish salted pretzel; reasonably crunchy and with a nicely balanced flavour with both wheat and salt present.
So test 1 passed- Penn State know how to do a basic pretzel well.
Next up, their Smoky Barbecue. The classic American flavour if you ask me. I enjoyed these (after taking some photos) whilst having a game of Fifa with a friend. We both reached a similar conclusion on their flavour.
Penn State nail the smell. These golden coloured pretzels were both sweet and smoky simultaneously just like any good barbecue flavoured product that has anything about it should be. I couldn’t wait to dive into the bag after tearing the top open with my mate.
Unfortunately these taste is a real let-down. There is actually a nice initial flavour- I love eating smoky foods (be they pretzels, crisps, or certain meaty foods like pancetta) and the seasoning on the outside of these pretzels was intensely smoky. But the seasoning on the pretzels was a very, very light dusting of flavoured powder. Meaning that, once the powder has dissolved on the tongue, there was just a big lump of bland pretzel in your mouth. Not horrible but distinctly disappointing.
So the Smoky Barbecue had a nice enough flavour but weren’t carried out brilliantly by Penn State.
And finally we have Penn State’s Sour Cream and Chive. I really liked the look of these when they were poured out of the bag- every pretzel had a thick layer of seasoning on the outside and smelt really, really enticing- to be honest, most sour cream smells plain wrong to me (because it essentially smells like delicious sweet cream which has been sat out in the sun for too long) but something about these pretzels worked.
The different between the Smokey Barbecue (which had also smelt good) and these Sour Cream and Chive was that these tasted nice as well. Very herby, slightly creamy and just generally much more flavoursome- there seemed to be a more generous helping of seasoning coating the pretzels themselves which helped.
The Sour Cream and Chive was definitely my favourite flavour. Which is unusual really; I tend to lean for Barbecue normally but Penn State have a very tasty Sour Cream offering here.
So here ends my first ever Savoury Saturday.
I like the Penn State brand. The packaging, the logo, the general quality were all above average and I saw enough from their Sea Salted and Sour Cream and Chive varieties to tempt me into buying their products in the future. The only thing about Penn State brand logo- it has 6 starts on the bag. 6 stars? Out of what?! Most things are out of either 5 stars or 10. So either Penn State are claiming that their pretzels are better than perfection, or admitting that they are a respectable but not outstanding 6 out of 10. Hmm.
In general, these are well done pretzels from Penn State. They won’t blow you away, but they will more than satisfy you and are a nice alternative to crisps.
Sea Salted- 7.1/10.
Smoky Barbecue- 6.2/10
Sour Cream and Chive- 7.6/10.