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Review: Eastern Standard Provisions Co. “Ballot Box”

A variety of savory, hand-twisted soft pretzels you can warm in the oven.

Of all the words I’d use to describe voting this year, fun is not one of them. But Eastern Standard Provisions Co., based in Boston, is hoping to make the 2020 election a little more palatable—ba-dum-bum—with its limited-edition Ballot Box, a snack pack full of savory, hand-twisted soft pretzels you can warm in the oven, sprinkle with coarse salt, and serve at your next stump speech–heckling party.

The Ballot Box, specially priced at $20.20, is part of Eastern Standard Provisions’ line of themed pretzel packs and boxes, which run $12.99 to $59.99. The maker also sells a variety of dipping sauces, from classic to truffle mustard, plus salts and sugars ($3.49 to $17.99).

The pretzels are freshly made and then frozen for shipping. Although they thaw by the time they arrive on your doorstep, they’re ready for action that day, or can be frozen for up to six months. Once heated, the pretzels can be enjoyed as is, or dipped or brushed with melted butter or oil, and sprinkled with coarse salt.

The Ballot Box comes with three different types of pretzels: a large, Wheelhouse Signature Soft Pretzel, six Turnbuckle Soft Pretzel Sticks, and a bag of One-Timer Soft Pretzel Bites. Also tucked inside: a packet of classic Pretzel Salt, and an “I Voted” sticker.

As the pols are fond of saying, let’s be clear: these pretzels are a far cry from the chewy, oil-slicked snacks that spend hours sadly rotating in warming cases at mall kiosks. The instructions recommend heating the snacks for just 5 minutes in the oven, and I scoffed at the notion; they’d either come out hard or burnt, or both, I figured. Yet . . . they didn’t. The team at Eastern Standard Provisions has somehow managed to package the magic of the fresh Bavarian-style pretzel the way it was meant to be enjoyed: with a thoothsome, mildly sweet, briochelike exterior and a soft, savory interior.

My snacking tastes often tilt more toward sweet than savory, but I found myself going back for a second round of pretzel bites the same day. And though I’m rarely moved to order gift boxes, I’m placing an order for a box to send to family today. Because we could all use something to look forward to during our long national nightmare.

The Ballot Box is available through Election Day, November 3, and can be shipped nationwide. Sign up for e-mails with Eastern Standard Provisions, and you’ll get the usual discount offers, as well as recipes using their ingredients, like Chocolate Espresso Crinkle Cookies.

Oh, and please get out and vote.

Ballot Box

$20.20
9.4

Appearance

10.0/10

Aroma

9.0/10

Texture

9.0/10

Mouthfeel

9.0/10

Flavor

10.0/10

Pros

  • Locally and artisanally made
  • Excellent flavor and texture
  • Easy to reheat and serve
  • Affordable
  • Maintain their chewy goodness even after freezing

Cons

  • Shipping price ($9.99 per box)
  • Lack of information on ingredient sourcing
  • Calorie count can be hefty (e.g., 490 for one Topknot)
  • Single-use plastic inner packaging
  • You’ll blow through the entire box way too quickly

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