Although big companies like Rold Gold butchered the pretzel and added a slew of uncommon ingredients like enriched flour and corn syrup, other companies do it justice with only what's needed.
Wikipedia explains the two main types of pretzel production in this link:
"....is made from wheat flour, water and yeast, glazed with egg wash, usually sprinkled with coarse salt, hand-sized and made for consumption on the same day. It is relatively soft, rather than brittle. To avoid confusion with any other kind of pretzel, German speakers call this variety "Laugenbrezel" (lye pretzel) because it is boiled in lye solution (NaOH) before baking. Sweet pastry pretzels with many different textures, toppings and coatings, are made. Crisp hard pretzels, e.g. pretzel sticks and a variety of shapes basically made from the same ingredients, have evolved from the lye pretzel by baking out excess moisture, thereby increasing shelf life and crispness."
As for the crunchy guys; I like them with mustard, mixed with chocolate, dipped in cottage cheese or peanut butter, mixed with a carrot, or just by themselves. Whatever form you enjoy, the average pretzel will have no fat and contain minimal ingredients; these are a much better alternative to potato chips.
On top of their simplistic ingredients, pretzel do offer some benefits like B vitamins (folate, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and B6) and minerals (manganese, iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and selenium). Do like me and seek out the whole grain variety for extra nutrition and stray away from anything enriched.
Unique Pretzel Bakery - I have my Mom's Pennsylvaia Dutch to thank for this being my number one favorite. Their availability is limited here in Texas, but I have found stores that carry them for a price. The best ones are their Sprouted Grain "Splits" that I feel are even better than just whole grain. Either way, these are mine and my Mom's top pick. Don't question the Dutch!
Snyder's of Hanover - Yes, they are a big company, but I feel they do the pretzel right, can't speak for some of their other products though. I prefer the Organic Whole Wheat and Oat Sticks when choosing from their selection. An added plus is the bag is made from post consumer materials.......which makes it very loud so no use being sneaky! I do have a weakness for the honey mustard flavored nuggets, but only on very rare occasions....mmmmm.
Utz - You see a trend? All of these companies are based in Pennsylvania; both Snyder's and Utz are in Hanover. Like I said, don't question the Dutch, they must know something about making a pretzel. They also make potato chips, but don't waste your time, pretzels are the way to go; my favorite is the Multigrain Specials.
Here are ten ways to eat a pretzel that I found on this link:
Check out this link for recipes like macaroni and cheese with a pretzel crust or chicken with a honey mustard pretzel crust.
How do you like to enjoy your pretzel? Post to comments to let us all know, maybe it's something I'd like to try!