According to the Wetzel's Pretzels official website, franchise founder Rick Wetzel worked up his own pretzel mix in 1994 and began selling the pretzels commercially, with a focus on freshness and high-quality ingredients. As is normal for mall fare, the pretzels are super-sized, come in a variety of flavors and contain plenty of fat, sugar and salt to add to their taste appeal.
Each type of pretzel from Wetzel's has slightly different nutrition facts and calorie totals. The basic flavors include original buttered and plain, cinnamon, almond crunch, sour cream and onion, and Cin-A-Yum, but the franchises also sell baked cheese pretzels, Wetzel "dogs" that have pretzel dough wrapped around hot dogs, drinks, pretzel dips and Wetzel "bitz," which are bite-sized, baked pretzel-dough pieces with toppings.
The original Wetzel's pretzel with butter has 320 calories, 4 g fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber and no sodium or protein. The same pretzel without butter has 280 calories, 0.5 g fat, no cholesterol, sodium or protein and 2 g fiber. The Cin-A-Yum variety, which has butter and a sugar frosting, weighs in at 470 calories, 9 g fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 87 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 29 g sugar and 10 g protein.
Baked, large pretzels are made from a yeasted dough that traditionally contains flour, water, salt and some oil in addition to yeast. Topping ingredients vary, although many pretzels are brushed with butter and sprinkled with sea salt or kosher salt. Wetzel's also incorporates cinnamon, sugar, frosting, sour cream, almonds, pepperoni, melted cheese and jalapeño peppers into many of its flavors.
If you're counting calories or trying to lose weight, eating an entire Wetzel's pretzel by yourself may set your plan back. Instead, try splitting a pretzel with a friend or opting for a small bag of crispy pretzels instead. Another alternative is to bake pretzels at home so that you can control the ingredients as well as the portion sizes to save extra calories, fat and sugar.
Wetzel's pretzels do not contain whole grain flour as a primary ingredient, so although they do fit as part of the "grains" food group that MyPyramid.gov recommends, they don't fulfill daily recommendations for whole grains. From a health and nutritional standpoint, it's best to eat Wetzel's pretzels as an occasional treat and form the basics of your diet from whole grains, nonfat dairy, lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, which have greater nutritional values.