Pretzel Boutique. 2009

I can't pass by one of these Pretzel Stores without thinking about the classic Saturday Night Live skit from the late 70's, The Scotch Boutique. Here in the Philadelphia area, pretzel franchises are literally popping up all over the place and yet everyone I talk to about this phenomenon just shrugs their shoulders and says "I don't get it either!". How do you explain a store the size of an average 7-11 that sells only one product? Yeah yeah, I know... they sell soda and cheese dip too, but seriously... just pretzels?? I drive by this particular store almost every day. It's been open about a month now. I never see any cars in the parking lot. It's directly across the street from a Wawa, and if you are from the Philly area you know that there is never an empty space in a Wawa parking lot at any time of day. And yes, Wawa sells soft pretzels in addition to a thousand other items.

So if you can't remember the SNL Scotch Boutique skit, here is the transcript. It's from October 14th, 1978. Fred Willard is Walker, and Gilda Radner is Jenny.

Walker: I knew it. You don't believe in this place, do ya? You don't believe in me.

Jenny: [tries to be reassuring] Honey, honey, I do. I do. It's just that it's been two months.

Walker: [deeply serious] Listen, a business takes time to build. It isn't done overnight. Nobody makes money their first couple of months. I thought you understood all of that.

Jenny: [horribly conflicted] I do, I do, I do. I - I - I - I - I don't know. [Two men have entered and stand in the doorway - Jenny sees them and becomes instantly cheerful] Oh, welcome to Scotch Boutique!

1st Man: [to Jenny] Um, do you sell any recording tape here?

Jenny: [cheerfully] No, just the sticky kind.

2nd Man: [to the first man] See? I told ya.

[The 2nd Man turns away to keep from laughing out loud. The 1st Man, stunned, smiles broadly and looks around at the store in amazement. The two men exit.]

Walker: [calls after the men, cheerfully] Next time you need the sticky kind, you'll know where to come! [instantly serious, to Jenny] I mean, I thought you understood that this was my dream. You said it was a good idea. Do you think in a million years, I'd draw out every last red cent of our - our savings account and invest it in this business if I thought you didn't think it was a good idea?

[A woman enters but, by now, Jenny is too distracted to greet her.]

2nd Woman: Uh, do you have any recording tape?

Walker: [pleasantly] No, just cellophane. The sticky kind. If you need any of the sticky kind, you know where to come!

2nd Woman: Okay, thanks.

Jenny: [weakly] Come again.

[The woman exits. Jenny, on the verge of tears, can't look Walker in the eye.]

Walker: Well, I guess that does it. I - I - I can't go on surrounded by quitters and - and doubters. Calls for a team effort. ... I'll never forget a story my uncle once told me. My uncle owned a little restaurant in Pennsylvania. It was real famous for a long time for its chicken salad. [Jenny and Kevin, who sits on his stool with comic book in hand, listen with interest] Well, one day, they couldn't get any chicken to put in the salad. So my uncle, what he did, he called together the employees. ... [Walker pauses to light his pipe] And he said, "Look, why don't we put turkey in that salad instead of chicken?" Well, of course, everyone was real nervous at first because they didn't know what was gonna happen. But you want to know something? Not one person even noticed that it was turkey instead of chicken. Now, that's what I call teamwork.

Jenny: [completely won over] I'm sorry, honey. I'll give it another chance. I believe in you.

Walker: [takes her hand] Thank you, honey.

And just to clarify, this is the only acceptable way to sell pretzels in Philly!
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