For those snackers who might bite into a pretzel-wrapped hotdog and think, "This needs jalapeños, slaw, green onion and cilantro sauce," Wetzel's Pretzels has your number.
The pretzel chain in May is scheduled to debut the new Twisted by Wetzel’s in the Los Angeles suburb of Orange County in La Habra Marketplace. It's a concept that takes pretzels to a new level, and is designed to bring the snack brand out of malls and other nontraditional locations to the streets as a standalone.
The 1,200-square-foot prototype will offer what is described as an immersive, 360-degree experience, with dine-in seating and a patio.
On the menu will be whimsical creations, like Pretzel Chimney Cakes, or cone-shaped pretzels rolled with sugar crystals that can be filled with soft-serve and indulgent toppings. Loaded Bitz are the chain’s familiar Pretzel Bitz (sweet or savory) featured with toppings like chocolate fudge, mini marshmallows and graham cracker crunch for a S’mores version, or Bacon Ranch and Baja Elote.
There are various Topped Pretzels loaded with cheese sauce, dusted with Nashville Heat spice or drizzled with a maple glaze and bacon bits.
“The twist is usually people’s favorite part, so we’re forming it in new ways to stuff in cheese and other toppings to create a meal-worthy, calzone-like, cheesy-goodness experience,” said Kim Freer, Wetzel’s Pretzel’s chief marketing officer.
Also on offer are Dogz, hot dog-stuffed variations like the Baja Boardwalk with jalapenos, green onion, slaw and Cilantro Baja Sauce on a spiral bun. Most items will be priced around $7.99.
House-made drinks will include lemonades, floats or options like the Magonada, made with mango frozen lemonade, chili lime seasoning and served with a tamarind straw.
It was an idea born of the pandemic, said Freer.
Consumer snacking had reached all-time highs even before the Covid shutdown, but the pandemic years put fuel on that fire. And though Wetzel’s Pretzels was enjoying steady growth in malls, where most of the chain’s 370 mostly franchised units are located, data showed that Americans were visiting malls an average of only about six times a year.
The Wetzel’s team saw an opportunity to “bring pretzels to the people” with a standalone concept that franchisees could bring to busy retail centers, as well as densely populated areas or near college campuses.
While Wetzel’s Pretzels are mostly an impulse snack purchased while doing something else, the new Twisted creates more of a snack destination—with digital ordering for to-go and delivery also available.
“It’s an opportunity to disrupt the snack category,” said Freer. “It’s an amplification of the flavor and fun and the joyfulness that snacking brings.”
Following the debut in Orange County, two more are scheduled to come this year. The second will also be in Southern California, and a third is coming to Arizona.
The first two are company owned, Freer said, and the unit in Arizona will be the first franchised location for Twisted.
Twisted was in the works before the brand was acquired by Montreal-based MTY Food Group last year.
The pretzel chain at the end of 2022 recorded 35% growth in sales compared with 2019, Freer said. Twisted is meant to be a complement to the primary brand, which will continue its growth in malls and other flexible locations, such as inside retail centers like Macy’s and Walmart, in airports or as a food truck concept, Freer said. About 50 locations are scheduled to open before the end of 2023.
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