We first learned of Dot’s Pretzels of North Dakota when compiling our annual Holiday Gift Guide late last year. The shop at the American Swedish Institute carried them, which didn’t seem like a logical choice for a gift shop focused on Swedish heritage, but the cashier told us that regardless of Swedish relevance they were flying out of the store.
And still are. A recent visit to buy more pretzels ($8 for a 1-pound bag) after we ate the first test batch — because, you know, eating one pound of pretzels wasn’t quite enough proof of how delicious they were, so we thought it prudent to buy two more pounds just to be sure — found that people are just as crazy about them after the holidays as they were before. While carrying around two bags of pretzels and looking at other items, we were stopped twice by shoppers wanting to know where the pretzels were, and the cashier told us that someone had purchased six bags earlier that day.
What’s the deal with Dot’s? They’re crazy addictive, that’s what. The little twisty sticks pack a bit of a punch, with a complex flavor reminiscent of ranch dressing (no doubt due to the buttermilk) as well as garlic, onion, and what tastes like cayenne and black pepper (buried under “spices” on the ingredient label). They’re generously salted, and have a good crunch and a slightly denser center than the run-of-the-mill pretzel, with the spicier flavors coming in after a few bites. By “spicy,” we’re talking Minnesota nice (or maybe North Dakota nice?), so not at all overwhelming, just a little afterburn. They’re a much better version of the various homemade ranch pretzel recipes in that the flavor is baked in, rather than just coating the outside.
The Swedish Institute was not sure how long they would continue to carry the pretzels, so it’s best to call ahead. If they don’t have them, you can check the where-to-buy list on Dot’s website. At the time of this writing, the only other Twin Cities locations on the list were the Methodist Hospital Gift Shop in St. Louis Park and Nicollet Ace Hardware in Minneapolis. (Yes, Dot’s has an eclectic array of retail outlets.) There are quite a few outstate areas that sell them, and you can also order them from the Dot’s website. If you’re going with the latter, take our advice: Order the 2-pound party bag. You won’t regret it.