Dance with the Devil & You’re Gonna Get Burned

Here’s a friendly little PSA: if you’re ever offered a pretzel with the name Lucifer’s Straight Jacket, avoid it at all costs. Unless you’d rather spend the next 20 minutes with your mouth on fire and tears streaming down your face. If that’s the case, knock yourself out, bro.

This is a classic case of do as I say, not as I do.

Understanding why I willingly ingested a pretzel that contains three of the hottest peppers in the world—a blend of Carolina Reaper, Scorpion, and Ghost peppers that measures a whopping 2.2 MILLION on the Scoville Heat Unit scale—requires a bit of backstory.

This all began in June, on a business trip to Hartford, South Dakota. I’d stopped by the Buffalo Ridge Brewing Company for a beer after work, and while there, couldn’t help but notice all the locals were snatching up pretzels from a display case by the bar. When I went to pay my bill, I asked the bartender, “What’s up with the pretzels?”

“They’re made in small batches by a local company in Mitchell,” she replied. “And they’re flying off the shelves.”

In my experience, items usually fly off shelves for a good reason, so I picked up a couple of packages myself. The company, Kringles Gourmet, only got into the pretzel biz in 2019, so these things are pretty new. And, as Larry David would say, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good. All their pretzels are hand seasoned with herbs and spices and then brined for 24 hours to allow the rich and bold flavors to infuse together. There are about two dozen varieties, ranging from sweet (bourbon chocolate, pumpkin spice) to savory (zesty ranch, garden vegetable). My favorites are the Dilly Dill and Spicy Buffalo.

Oh, and there’s even a Homestyle Chex Mix, B.K..

By the way, the Dakotas have really nailed it when it comes to pretzels. We fell in love with Dot’s, out of North Dakota, soon after we arrived. And South Dakota’s Kringles are, IMHO, even better.

On subsequent trips across the state, I stocked up on these pretzels, and eventually got my coworkers hooked on them. So much so that the engineering group in the back of the building ordered a case of pretty much every flavor, including the aforementioned Lucifer’s Straight Jacket. When they encouraged me to try one, I could have said no. I should have said no. But I’m a yes kind of guy, especially when peer pressure is involved. Plus, I felt it was my responsibility, since I’d been the one to introduce the office to Kringle’s Gourmet in the first place.

Big mistake. Big. Huge.

I texted Tara mid-agony looking for sympathy. All I got was, Jesus, babe. Why tho???

The wife had a point.

Fortunately, after about 20 minutes, the burn faded and I never experienced any, umm, aftereffects, like I did that time I ate a scorching hot habanero fritter in Portland and paid for my transgression well into the night. Or the time I dipped a spoon into a jar of ghost pepper salsa on a trip to the coast and wept for the next hour.

They say those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. One of these days, I’m a-gonna listen to myself!


You may recall that I went a little overboard decorating my office immediately after Thanksgiving for a company-wide competition. Some of you assumed my victory was pretty much assured.

Welp, I did not win.

The reasons for my un-victory were mostly political. The decorating contest was one of eight theme days, created by the holiday planning committee, of which I am a part. The emails announcing the winners are sent out by me under a marketing department alias. One of the day one winners was a member of the marketing department. My supervisor said she didn’t want it to look like we were merely rewarding ourselves, apologized profusely for my lack of victory, and encouraged me to enter some of the other days.

I totally understood her reasoning and couldn’t help but agree. When I shared this with Tara, she said, “Makes sense. And you didn’t decorate your office for a gift card, you did it because you love the holidays! Right?”

Err. Of course, babe!

(She’s right. I do. And that’s mostly why I went to extremes.)

In looking over our remaining theme days, I figured my best shot might be Day 5: Freeze Frame. Share a photo of yourself from the ’80s. Well heck, I’ve got a few of those! So I submitted two that I felt were pretty representative of the decade.

And lo and behold, I won!

Did I have Pac-Man fever? Absolutely! I spent many hours (and quarters) in arcades during my teen years.

Was I a punk rocker? If you’re talking Halloween 1987, hell yeah! Otherwise, not so much. Without context behind that photo, for all I know, CenturyCo now assumes I was the very embodiment of Billy Idol during the ’80s. Honestly, I’m okay with that. If they believe I was a ripped-shirt-leather-glove-and-earring-(WTF?)-wearing-better-lock-up-your-daughters badass during the Reagan and Bush era, that’s a reputation I can live with. In the midnight hour babe, more, more, more.

The fact that it’s made me a little richer right before the holidays is an added bonus.

25 thoughts on “Dance with the Devil & You’re Gonna Get Burned

  1. I love Dot’s pretzels! One of my patients brought them out to me a few years ago and I re-discovered them this year! Thankfully they sell them here in Maine. I have a bag sitting in my kitchen as I type. Good stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dot’s Pretzels (the original flavor, thank you) are addictive.

    Yet another thing you and the husband have in common: embarrassing HS pictures. I mean, we all have them to some degree, but we don’t all have the “what were you thinking?!” ones like some of you do. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good grief on the spicy pretzel. I’ll take the pumpkin spice! The 80’s photos are excellent, dude! My kids can never get over my big hair from back then.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Firstly, (Wow, that’s actually a word? No red squiggly.) LOVE the personal shout-out. And now, of course, absolutely want to try those CM pretzel sumbitches.

    Second, what did the coworkers do with the pepper pretzels? Did they eat them too? How did they handle it? (And good on that company, in general, for doing such a great job in the pretzel making dpmt.)

    Third, glad you won for those 80s pics. Totally priceless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always a little thrill to see your name in print. Or, in this case, your initials. Ha.

      The guys in the back were eating the insanely hot pretzels. At least, I assume so, as the container was missing about 1/3 of them when I took one. I know my boss tried one immediately after me, because he popped into my office 10 minutes later saying he’d had to swallow a gallon of ice cream to manage the burn.

      “Wait. There’s ice cream?!” was my reply. Information I could have used much sooner…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, man! If only you’d had that ice cream! You dudes and your peer pressure. That’s one I would’ve walked away from easily. I’d rather bear the “burn” of the teasing than the other kind.

        And, yea, thanks for the shout out. It’s nice to be remembered, even for something as weird as a Chex Mix obsession.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The non fire-in-the-hole-pretzels sound interesting….but I’ll refrain from the FIREY ones.

    Those are two cute photos!
    Gosh, I loved arcade games back in the day too and honestly, I had a little punk rock in me for a few years. I mean, I had to since I was going to marry Billy Idol.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A little late with the question, as usual, but…What did you win?

    And now I’ll have to add flavored pretzels to flavored popcorn. Not that the originals aren’t good on their own, but variety is the spice of life, right?

    Liked by 1 person

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