Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 24, 2013

GARY'S WORLD: Stop overusing pumpkin and pretzels

By Gary Nelson
Senior staffwriter

CROSSVILLE — I love fall and those who know me well, know it is my favorite season of the year. Not only is the weather cooler and perfect for wearing a jacket, but I also get to demonstrate my love and affinity toward flannel.

The leaves changing colors is usually entertaining on a daily basis. The other thing that is great about fall is food.

The food choices are wonderful and there's nothing like coming into the kitchen and smelling a pot of chili cooking. There's all kinds of amazing, tasty soups and crock pot meals and desserts.

The past couple of years, though, I have noticed a phenomenon that is starting to give my beloved season a negative connotation — pumpkin.

Don't get me wrong, I love pumpkin and the traditional pumpkin food products. But, over the past couple years, the in your face pumpkin recipes have just gotten way out of control.

I love pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake, or pumpkin roll, but going beyond that is extreme, in my opinion.

I saw a recipe for pumpkin soup for Heaven's sake. Pumpkin salsa, pumpkin-zuchinni bread and pumpkin-beef stew are just a few of the more ridiculous pumpkin concoctions I've seen this year.

People — stop the madness!

A pumpkin spice latte was a Starbucks product that was introduced several years ago. Now, every coffee joint in the nation is offering one. Even McDonald's is offering a pumpkin spice latte. My goodness!

And, as long as I'm talking about food, there's something else that has been baffling me this year — why the sudden popularity of pretzel buns?

Just about each and every restaurant and fast food chain is rolling out a new pretzel bun sandwich. Why?

I honestly can't understand this pretzel bun food craze that has dominated the eating industry this past year.

I recently read an article online in USA Today that claimed a record 160 pretzel products were introduced last year versus less than 60 back in 2009, reports research specialist Mintel.

In the article, Mintel's products guru, Lynn Dornblaser, offers the explanation, "Pretzels taste yummy and crunchy, but don't typically come loaded with all the fat grams of other breads and pastries."

She predicts this is just the beginning of the pretzel craze and that we should expect to see forms of pretzel showing up in fancier food entrees soon, such as pretzel crusted fish or chicken.

Okay, I like pretzel — but that doesn't mean I want it with everything and available with a sandwich or topping for a meat.

Dornblaser even predicts that the pretzel craze is becoming so popular that it will make the crossover into the pet treat market for dogs!

Give me a break! The kind of trumped-up food product advertising that is fueling the pretzel craze is just that — excessive advertising. I find it hard to believe that consumers were wandering around cities demanding a pretzel bun for their sandwich, which lead to companies coming up with this "inventive recipe."

If this madness continues, I suspect the hot beverage craze next fall to be something like the pretzel-crusted, pumpkin cheesecake latte — available for a limited time.

What's wrong with having a sandwich, or burger, on white, wheat or sourdough bread, or a bun, followed by a piece of pumpkin pie and a cup of coffee? Nothing. Why fancy it up and make a farce out of something that has always been good?