Feature writing


The cronut gives way to the penis pretzel

The Daily Beast

August 7, 2014

After the much-imitated Cronut, that yummy edifice where doughnut met croissant, after the ice cream sundae in a chocolate-coated can, which went on exclusive sale in the Hamptons, the ever-inventive Dominique Ansel has outdone himself. Hail the penis-shaped peanut butter pretzel, the very literal embodiment of food porn.

Except, the Soho pastry chef insists, the new $8 pretzel is most definitely not intended to be anything phallic at all, but a pretzel in the shape of a lobster tail. We are all disgusting perverts for thinking otherwise: shame on us.

In my defense, a straw poll of my colleagues came back with a series of like-duh shrugs when I showed them the image Ansel sent me, with one erect lobster tail resting on another “at rest” as a colleague put it. As for my other co-workers: “It’s a penis.” “That is totally a penis.” “Eww, yes, penis.” “Is he serious? That’s a penis.” The only dissenting colleague said, “It reminds me of the head of a pharaoh.”

The lobster tail—say it repeatedly until your mind has cleansed itself of dick imagery—goes on sale Saturday (they’re making about a hundred for the first batch), and will likely encourage even longer queues than normal at Ansel’s bakery.

Made with soft pretzel stuffed with homemade peanut butter and buttercrunch brittle, the “lobster tail,” which is served warm, is shaped “so that it can easily tear apart into perfect bite-sized segments, and then sprinkled liberally with Maldon sea salt,” a press release from Ansel’s bakery says.

The best part, says Ansel, is the “utterly addictive” whipped honey brown butter served in a dish alongside. “The buttery, nutty, and sweet and salty all work together to form a balance of flavors.”

So you’re meant to dip the very phallic looking pretzel into a light buttery sauce, and then place it in your mouth. Hmm.

As well as extremely phallic, it looks very complicated in construction. “All things pastry are a little technical,” Ansel tells The Daily Beast via email. “For these it’s about getting the right pretzel base recipe and then properly calibrating the peanut butter and buttercrunch recipe.”

On its creation, Ansel told The Daily Beast: “I wanted to do something with a pretzel for the summer, and pretzels taste good with butter and salt. We thought of other things that taste good with butter and salt and thought: lobster. It was a fun little inspiration.”

Well, it looks like a penis. Was that intentional? The email response from Ansel: “Wow—what do people think when they see a hot dog? By no means would we ever do anything vulgar or offensive.”

A spokeswoman adds that, in the baked flesh, it looks more like a lobster tail. (It just photographs like a penis, then.)

Either Ansel lightens up and accepts his “lobster tail” and whipped, buttery dipping sauce are the delicious, culinary equivalent of a French farce, or—when you go down to pick yours up—remember, whatever your mucky mind has conjured, it’s meant to look like a lobster tail.

Safe dipping, everyone.