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Bow down to the 3-pound pretzel at Texas Rangers Ballpark

Teresa Gubbins, Pegasus News

Exploiting one of Texas' most beloved stereotypes -- IE, "everything's bigger here" -- the Rangers Ballpark added to its 2011 list of concession items a ridiculously giant pretzel that weighs three+ pounds.

This pretzel is so massive, it comes in a pizza box. This pretzel is so massive, it can feed the snack needs of a family of four. This pretzel is so massive, it could play bass for Black Sabbath.

Priced at $12.50, the gargantuan snack is part of an improvement package that also includes a $6 Nolan Ryan beef hot dog and a Food Network Texas Steak Sandwich. Mere midgets, size-wise.

The mammoth muncher first emerged during last year's World Series playoffs, says Rangers Ballpark Operations Manager Casey Rapp.

"Last year during the playoffs, we said, 'We gotta come up with something that's bigger than anything else, that really signifies Texas'," Rapp says. "At the World Series games we played at home, we sold the heck out of them."

While officially designated to be shared, the enormous pretzel serves as a keen example of the kind of excess you could only characterize as "classic American." One estimate puts it at 3,400 to 3,700 calories. Even if you did split the leviathan treat with three of your pals, it still comes out to three-quarters of a pound each. If you think of that in raw materials, just imagine three cups of flour. Mmmm.

Rangers' 3-pound pretzel. (Photo: Anthony Andro)

But three cups of flour becomes more fathomable after it's been fashioned into a honkin' curlique of dough, sprinkled with salt and baked until dark, crisp, and hot.

The crispy colossus comes with three dipping sauces: nacho cheese, marinara, and honey mustard. If you must have sauces, they're fine, but no serious sauce comes in a plastic cup, even one that nestles so cleverly into the gaps of this twisty titanic.

Texas Twist, the Carrollton company that makes the monstrous morsel, is a giant in the mega-pretzel field; they do the 10-incher served at Wrigley Field. But at 12 inches, ours is bigger than theirs. By 2 inches. Ha ha.

Making the humongous hardtack takes two days, says Texas Twist president Gary Powell, because they're sourdough.

The ingredients are mainly flour, water, vegetable shortening, yeast, sugar, and salt. On Day One, the dough rises and ferments; on Day Two, the Bunyan-esque bite is hearth-baked -- directly on a stone -- for about 15 minutes. A traditional soda bath creates the pretzel's dark crust, a contrast to the fluffy white crumb inside.

At the ballpark, the Brobdingnagian buns get warmed in a conveyor-belt oven, the same one used for pizza, since they won't fit it in a standard oven. They're just too yuge.

This is also the time when you specify whether your edible Goliath should be sprinkled with salt or without. The correct answer is "with." The salt is a brand name: Alberger, a special flake from one salt mill in New York where they cut it with knives, rather than crushing, into a pyramid shape crystal that adheres more readily to the pretzel's surface.

"It renders a totally different flavor profile," Powell says.

Because this doughy King Kong is so big, it has a higher ratio of soft bready center to firm outside shell, making it more akin to bread -- say, a French roll -- than a pretzel.

These are not the chewy hard pretzels favored in the Northeast -- which some might say are a far superior pretzel in that they have a firm chew and substance. But this is Texas. We may like it big, but we don't like it chewy. We like it soft -- like our abs.

The bready behemoth is sold on two locations on the first level, at Section 11 and 29; on the third deck at Section 327; and in-seat service on the club level (all the seats from 215-235).

Sales of the jumbo jugalo for this first season are already large, says Rapp.

"On Opening Day, I wanna say we sold about 30 from each location, which would be a total of 150," he says. "That's pretty big."

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