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New home, but the same great taste

By Jim Vanore

Doughnuts are popularly—and incorrectly—identified as “cop food.”
Having been a cop in Philadelphia for more than 22 years, I can honestly say I never saw a cop eat a doughnut.
Doughnuts, you see, are kids’ food; not cop food. The concept of cops—at least in Philadelphia—eating capacious amounts of doughnuts is nothing more than a Hollywood affectation.
Cop food? That’s easy: hoagies, cheesesteaks, pizza, burgers, hot sausage sandwiches, and soft pretzels—especially soft pretzels! They’re easy (and unmessy) to hold, they’re inexpensive, they’re filling, and boy, are they good. And in Philly, they’re everywhere.
After moving to Cape May County permanently, I missed several things about Philly. I missed the neighborhood grocery store, I missed the far-reaching public transportation system, I missed the nearness of Veterans’ Stadium, and I missed a good soft pretzel.
I grew up on these things. I survived on them at times. With or without mustard. Hot from the oven, or much cooler out of a cardboard box carried by a 12-year-old street vendor.
The big ones were five cents apiece in high school. They’re a bit more today, but still a good deal. Two soft pretzels and a Pepsi could satisfy a fully-grown man as a quick lunch.
It’s not a well-rounded diet, mind you, but it kept me going more often than I care to remember during some long tours of duty in a patrol car, walking a beat, or inside a station house.
But how did I handle being 90 miles from a real soft pretzel factory here in Cape May County? I tried the frozen variety out of a box from the supermarket. They were OK. They had to be. Let’s just say they were better than the alternative—abstinence.
It took 20 years, give or take, but soft pretzels—the real, fresh, Philadelphia class—finally arrived at the shore. And fortunately (for me) two of the new purveyors of these ductile baked goodies are within walking distance of the Herald: A Taste of Philly in the Grande Center on Route 9, and Philly Soft Pretzel Factory on Route 47.
I found out from Bob McCloskey of A Taste of Philly, just what made him open a pretzel-making business here at the shore. And from John Bonder of the Philly Soft Pretzel Factory, I learned how to make pretzels, and even got myself a new title.
To see first hand how these businesses got started and how they work, watch the video on our Web site: capemaycountyherald.com.
So Rio Grande may not have a Veterans’ Stadium close by, but with soft pretzels right here at work, goodbye low-carb diet!
If you haven’t tried these fresh-from the oven staples, don’t hesitate. You won’t be disappointed. They’re as good as I remember. And heaven knows, there’s no doubt about their freshness.
Soft pretzels have been rediscovered in this new hometown at the Jersey Shore.
The only thing missing is the ambiance of that kid and his cardboard box.
jvanore@cmcherald.com

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