“The Twisted World of Marge Simpson,” season 8, episode 11
My favorite MLB clip of all time really has nothing to do with the game of baseball. It’s from a Red Sox game 12 years ago when a fan threw an entire slice of pizza at another fan. It’s known as the “Here comes the pizza” incident, and it makes me laugh so hard every time I watch it. ANYWAY, it reminds me of a moment in season 8’s “The Twisted World of Marge Simpson,” but replace the pizza with pretzels. Read on to see what the hell I’m talking about!
This Marge-centric episode starts at a meeting of the Springfield Investorettes at The Municipal House of Pancakes. Marge doesn’t want to go high risk (she “can’t keep up with the go-go 90’s”) and gets expelled from the club and told she’ll get her pancakes in the mail. Marge decides to beat the investment club at their own game by attending the franchise fair, while Homer wonders when exactly the pancakes will arrive and pokes himself in the eye with a hot dog.
At the franchise fair, Marge runs into Helen, Edna, Maude and Agnes (”it means lamb of God!!”) just before they buy a Fleet-a-Pita franchise. Side note: I will be making a Ben Franklin in the future, flavor sauce and all. Marge invests in a Pretzel Wagon franchise courtesy of Frank Orman (voiced by the great Jack Lemmon). She follows the initiation video’s advice and sets up her garage office complete with a “Hang in there baby” poster and stages a ticker tape parade with Lisa the space girl. For her first day in business, she sets up outside the nuclear plant. Homer leads his co-workers outside, but before she can sell two pretzels, Fleet-A-Pita shows up blaring Fleetwood Mac and steals her business. Soon after, Cletus wipes her out with coupons and Marge begins to lose hope.
To try and boost business, it’s Free Pretzel Day at the Isotopes’ stadium. Everyone is about to happily eat their pretzels when it’s announced that Mr. Burns won the van giveaway raffle. The crowd is enraged and “here come the pretzels.” Fans start throwing their pretzels on the field—less gross than pizza I guess, but they still knock hall-of-famer Whitey Ford unconscious—it was a “black day for baseball.” No one even tries Marge’s pretzels, and she is despondent. Homer goes to see Frank and walks in on his funeral, and then naturally turns to the mob for help. Unbeknownst to Marge, they begin taking out her competition all over town, including flipping over Hans Moleman’s hot dog cart and rounding up girl scouts and releasing them at the county line.
Business is booming, but soon the mob want a favor in return. They appear at her home to collect just as the Investorettes arrive with their own gang—the Japanese mob. The episode honestly ends in a jumble, with the mobs fighting it out in the yard while the family sits around the kitchen table.
This episode has two lines I quote often: “Here come the pretzels” and “Hang in there baby,” and is completely based around a single delicious food, so it’s a perfect inaugural The Joy of Cooking Milhouse pick. Pretzel Wagon pretzels are definitely soft pretzels, so I adapted a classic recipe with one small addition: butter. We all know how Homer feels about butter, and honestly I agree. Leave it off if you’re dairy-free. And unless you’re using these as weapons, eat them warm. I ate three (yes, I said three) while typing this on my buttery keyboard.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes 8 soft pretzels
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 packet instant yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoon coarse or kosher salt (or to taste)
2 tablespoons butter, melted (optional)
- Place the flour, yeast, table salt and sugar into a bowl and mix. Add the water (slightly less than a cup if it is wintertime or humid) and beat until well-combined by hand or with a mixer. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until it’s soft and smooth. Flour the dough and place it in a plastic bag or a covered bowl and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
- While the dough rests, combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature.
- Preheat your oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet and grease with spray or oil.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide it into eight equal pieces (about 2.2 ounces each). Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Pour the baking soda solution into shallow bowl or deep plate and stir to mix up again.
- Roll a piece of dough into a long, thin rope (close to 30″ long) on a lightly greased surface and twist into a pretzel. Place in the baking soda solution making sure it’s completely submerged. Repeat with another piece of dough and, once you’re ready to add it to the baking soda bath, move the previous pretzel to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Sprinkle the pretzels with coarse or kosher salt. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes.
- Bake the pretzels for 8-10 minutes or until they’re golden brown.
- Immediately brush the pretzels thoroughly with melted butter (optional). Eat warm or throw at Whitey Ford.