If you enjoy the occasional big, soft and chewy pretzel, you’re not alone. A carnival and shopping mall favorite, there’s even a fast food chain specializing in pretzels.
But if you’ve ever tried to replicate the look, taste, and mouthfeel of these jumbo pretzels at home, chances are you have failed. That’s because of a secret ingredient used in commercial establishments, but not at home. It is a dangerous chemical that can cause severe burns, blindness, and other agony.
This chemical is called caustic soda, or by other names, lye or sodium hydroxide. It is highly corrosive and used mostly in industrial settings to clean machinery, pulping wood, and dissolving some types of metal.
Why in the world would we want this in our food? Well, technically it is not present in the pretzels when you eat them. But, by dipping the pretzel dough in a water solution with a small amount of lye and then baking them, the resulting crust is crisp and unmatchable.The baking process rids the pretzel of the chemical.