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Sweet 'n Spicy Dr Pepper Glazed Pretzels inspired by Mermaids

Sweet 'n Spicy Dr Pepper Glazed Pretzels inspired by Mermaids
If this isn't your first time here, you probably know that I've been making food inspired by movies once a month for more than five years now. So yeah, I've featured food or drink inspired by over 60 movies now! And even though that is a lot, I always find myself thinking I'd like to do more in a month. Unfortunately, the months just do not have enough days for me to do that. Or do they?

I decided that this month would defintely have enough days. One of the cool things about running a "movie and food" club online is meeting people with similar interests that I probably wouldn't have met otherwise. I met Kimberly from Coffee and Casseroles when she emailed me a little over a year ago now about joining in the Food 'n Flix fun, and we've become friends since then.

We often talk about books, tv, and movies and this month we decided to watch and cook from another one together. She mentioned the 1990 flick Mermaids and since I hadn't seen it in a couple of decades (yikes!) I asked her if she wanted to use that as our inspiration for our post. The rest is history.

Mermaids stars Cher, Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder, and a very young Christina Ricci. Set in 1963-4, Mrs. Flax is a single mother with two daughters who isn't big on commitment. Even any meal consisting of more than hors d'oeuvres is "too big a commitment" for her. She enjoys life and if something gets uncomfortable, she leaves.

The movie centers around the new life they've started in a small town in Massachusetts. Fifteen year old Charlotte is tired of moving...tired of mothering her mother (who she refers to as "Mrs. Flax")...and can't decide whether she wants to be a nun or jump the sexy 26-year old Joe Peretti's bones - although he'll always be Jake Ryan to me.
Oh, hi Jake.
Yeah, I said 15 and 26...and mom is okay with it. Let's say she basically encourages it. But I'm not gonna go there today. I'm also not going to go any further into what happened in the flick other than to say that shit eventually comes to a head (as it always does) and people grow up in more ways than one. Instead, let's talk about the food in the movie.

It's not a foodcentric film, but from the meal of "cheeseball pick-me-ups accompanied by miniature franks, and for dessert, marshmallow kabobs" that Mrs. Flax serves 4 minutes in to the extravagant appetizer dinner scene at the end, there's plenty to be found.

There's fudge, punch, bagels, sandwiches, deviled eggs, waffle bites, pancakes, bacon, sausage, toast, Scotch, pot roast, mashed potatoes, roast chicken, cranberry sauce, rolls, carrots, peanut butter, olives, and some wine. You know, either shown or mentioned. But the minute I saw the scene with Mrs. Flax and Lou in bed after "not going out somewhere" for the first time, I knew what I wanted to make.
Pretzels, Soda, and Cigarettes in bed from the movie Mermaids
Mrs. Flax walks into the room, cigarette in hand, and passes Lou a bottle of soda as she settles in beside him with a bowl of pretzels. I'm not 100% sure what kind of soda it was. At first I thought it was Dr. Pepper, but it very well could have been Pepsi or Nesbitt's. I tried googling images of soda bottles from the 60's, but couldn't find an exact match...and I just couldn't make out the words. So I went with my first instinct (though you could definitely make this with whatever kind you want).

To combine the two, I boiled the soda until it reduced into a syrup caramel, then mixed in some sugar, butter, and spices before tossing it with the pretzels and baking them. Although they look pretty boring, they taste pretty darn good. A little sweet, a little spicy...okay, I won't lie...they taste EXACTLY like gingerbread. Not really what I was going for, but hey, it's that time of year anyway, so it works.

Next time I'll probably go crazy and add use half pretzels and half mixed roasted nuts. Either way, I think Mrs. Flax would approve of the fact that they aren't complicated in the least. I know she'd also approve of the Homemade TV Dinner that Kimberly was inspired to make!

Sweet 'n Spicy Dr Pepper Glazed Pretzels
These crunchy pretzels baked in a glaze made from reduced Dr Pepper and spices taste exactly like gingerbread!
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Sweet 'n Spicy Dr Pepper Glazed Pretzels
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Keywords: bake snack soy-free vegetarian American

Ingredients (4 cups)
  • 2 cups Dr Pepper
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspooon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups pretzel twists
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 300° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.

Pour the Dr Pepper into a small pot set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to cook at a steady simmer until reduced to about 1 cup. At this point, stir in the brown sugar and allow to simmer again until it is thicky and syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup. The entire process should take about 15-20 minutes total. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and all of the spices except the salt.

Place the pretzels in a bowl, then pour the mixture over them; toss to coat. The syrup may seize up a little during this step - that's okay. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet and scatter the salt over them. Slide into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through (the heat will melt the syrup again and you'll be able to stir and distribute it here).

Allow to cool before serving. Store cooled pretzels in an airtight container at room temperature.