We’re celebrating 28 years of Isaac’s with a special anniversary menu that features the sandwiches from our original 1983 menu. One thing you might have noticed is no mention of a Mallard, Twisted Chicken, Rose of Sharon…or any other of our popular pretzel roll sandwiches. I KNOW…an Isaac’s menu WITHOUT our famous pretzel roll sandwiches!?!? The more I thought about it, the more I suspected there was an interesting story to be told…and to my credit, I was right! Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post today!
I decided to start my sandwich sleuthing by eating a Twisted Chicken (I figured that would be a great way to get inspired, too). As I munched, I sorted through our big file called “Old Menus”. I found a menu from 1994 that did not have any pretzel sandwiches and then one from 1996 where they appeared company-wide. My investigation got another break when my boss, Phil Wenger, and our menu queen, Jen Shivery, told me to talk with Doug Kaufmann, a former Isaac’s General Manager from our East York location at Meadowbrook Village.
According to Doug, one day in 1994 Pat the Bread Guy (who used to deliver bread to Isaac’s, other vendors and to Central Market) had a left-over box of the famous big Philly-style soft pretzels that he gave to him rather than throwing them out! So Doug got some ham, Swiss cheese and mustard and made the first Pretzel Sandwiches at Isaac’s and fed his employees! They raved so much about the twisted concoction that he started ordering more of the pretzels and running them as specials. The idea spread like wildfire through the company, which had around 12 locations by that time (1995) and everyone wanted to get twisted!
But there were some problems with the pretzels from Philadelphia…they didn’t have a great shelf life and they burned easily in our grills. After a brief search we discovered Smittie’s Soft Pretzels, in York County no less, who had been making pretzels since 1934. Even better, they had already developed a pretzel roll that they sold at their store and highway stands in York County. Their rolls, made with a distinct stone hearth baked recipe, created the perfect combination for some of Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches.
After a few modifications and a brief trial period, Isaac’s Pretzels Sandwiches became a part of the flock in 1996 and are officially 15 years old this year. Whew…after all that sleuthing, I think I deserve a treat…like my personal favorite Pretzel Sandwich, the Mallard! What’s your favorite pretzel sandwich?
And that’s the latest scoop from JohnnyKat Roberts, Isaac’s Marketing Coordinator!