Today on the tray: Rebetzel’s Pretzels

April 26 is National Pretzel Day.

Have you ever wondered who invented pretzels? According to History.com:

pretzelThe Catholic Church played a leading role in the early history of the pretzel. In the seventh century, the church dictated stricter rules governing fasting and abstinence during Lent than it does today. Pretzels, made of a simple mixture of water, flour and salt, were an ideal food to consume during Lent, when all types of meat, dairy and eggs were prohibited.

The sweeping saga of the pretzel includes an invasion of Vienna by tunneling Ottoman Turks, who were defeated by monks baking pretzels in a monastery basement; Swiss royalty “tying the knot” with matrimonial pretzels; Pilgrims using pretzels for trade with Native Americans; the opening of the first commercial pretzel bakery in Lancaster, Penn.; and the introduction of the first automated pretzel maker in 1935. Someone should make a miniseries.

Michael’s TV Tray covers food and “classic TV,” which is usually defined as vintage programming. But for the first time, I’m writing a current show—one that is, in my opinion, an instant classic. It’s also the only current scripted show I watch. (Or watched, past tense. Sadly, it aired its final episode last month.) I’m talking about the CW series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Rebecca rides a pretzel into the sky in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Pretzels are a running theme throughout Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. If you’re familiar with this show, you know that each episode contains original songs, inserted musical-theater style into the action. In the first episode, the main character, Rebecca (played by series co-creator Rachel Bloom) impulsively moves to West Covina, Calif., to stalk an old boyfriend from summer camp. Upon arriving in West Covina—depicted as a bland suburb full of strip malls and concrete—she bursts into song. Brimming with delusional optimism, she is delighted by every detail of the unremarkable town. “What a cool-looking anime wig!” she sings. “And I’ve never seen a pretzel this big!” At the end of the song, she rides into the sky on a giant pretzel. Watch it here!

In the fourth and final season of the series, she gives up her law career to open a pretzel business, Rebetzel’s Pretzels. After Rebecca wonders aloud to some pretzels about her future, a pair of Simon & Garfunkel pretzels sing a world-weary lament:

“Our Twisted Fate,” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2019)

…We’ve been a-salted by her yearning
To make her life a cogent tale
Sure, it’s nice to be kneaded
But, now, the whole thing’s getting stale…

I never thought Simon & Garfunkel looked like pretzels, but when you view them side by side, they kind of do.

Fortunately, you and I are not pretzels, so we don’t have to give anyone advice or sing melancholy songs. Have a great National Pretzel Day!

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