Hey Kevin: "What's all this about a pretzel necklace?"


Hey Kevin,


This is the first time I’m attending the Michigan Winter Beer Festival—I’m so excited! My boyfriend has been to several, and he told me I should wear a pretzel necklace. I thought he was pulling my leg until I Googled it. Looks like it's what all the cool kids wear. My question is, why?


Peg from Benton Harbor


Hi Peg,


Common sense tells us the pretzel necklace is a purely functional device—on one hand, nibbling a few pretzels "resets" the palate between sips of fantastic Michigan beer. On the other hand, the persistent munching of salty snacks stabilizes blood sugar as you wait in line for your next snort of whatever crazy beer Short’s is pouring. That the pretzels hang from a necklace is simply a matter of convenience—from what else would you hang them?


Sounds reasonable, right? Well, cultural anthropologists have a decidedly different explanation. Rather than a result of function, they contend it’s a matter of social status, and that a direct correlation exists between the pretzel necklace—its size and heft, specifically—and the degree to which one self-identifies as a beer geek.


To put it succinctly, the more extravagant the necklace, the greater the beer geek's passion for Michigan-crafted suds (and, oddly enough, the greater the chance a tattoo of our great state will appear somewhere on the body). One can go too far, however. Disingenuous pretzel neckwear can quickly earn one the title of pretzel poser, a pejorative term which ranks among the beer world's most serious accusations.