How I got three pretzels the size of my head for the price of one from the Arndale Center – Bethan Shufflebotham

Shopping can be hungry work, and with dozens of retailers lining the floors of central Manchester Arndale, you can feel hungry pretty quickly. But did you know that there is a way to get delicious food from some of their vendors for a fraction of the price?

There are 12 of Manchester Arndale’s restaurants, cafes and eateries associated with the Too Good To Go food waste savings app, which cuts prices by up to 70 per cent because items are almost above the best. The app is free to download, and shoppers reserve “magic bags” for a fraction of the retail price, otherwise food would go to waste.

One of the Arndale food places associated with the app is Auntie Anne’s, the pretzel counter located outside of The Card Factory. The pop-up opened in 2018 and has been handing out giant American-style pretzels to shoppers ever since.

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Most days, Auntie Anne’s loads two sets of mystery bags at separate pickup times, one between 2:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. and the other between 6:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. bags cost £4.29 but promise £10 worth of sweet or salty pretzels, stix, nuggets or pretzels.

Auntie Anne's at the Arndale Centre, Manchester
Auntie Anne’s at the Arndale Centre, Manchester

Pretzels at Auntie Anne’s cost between £4 and £5 on average, so the cost of a magic bag is essentially the price of a standard pretzel. And the fact that they are ‘the best of the past’ in no way suggests that they are outdated or less enjoyable.

The dough for all menu items is made from scratch on site, with everything rolled and baked by hand. All pretzels come with a freshness guarantee, which means your pretzel has been baked in the last 30 minutes or less. In other words, if you’re buying a Too Good To Go bag, your pretzel was made over a half hour ago, which is still fresh enough for me.

Potential offerings include pretzels sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, sprinkled with salt, almond pretzels, topped with melted cheese or wrapped around a sausage, as well as pretzels with sesame, jalapeno, cheese and bacon, and pepperoni. Other finds include pretzel nuggets or sticks, which are best served with a variety of sauces, such as marinara, cheese, honey mustard, sweet icing or gooey toffee.

Manchester Evening News reporter Bethan Shufflebotham has been making her way through the Too Good To Go app finding partner retailers to see what’s inside their ‘magic bags’.

The bags vary in price, but are often 70 percent cheaper than their usual retail value, offering shoppers big savings. Otherwise, the food would end up in the rubbish bin, adding to the huge problem of food waste in the UK.

Bethan has been researching the best shops, supermarkets and cafes to reserve a Too Good To Go bag. You can find all their verdicts here:

When I arrived with my Too Good To Go app activated and ready to swipe, the speedy staff members grabbed a trio of pretzels and bagged them before delivering. Meanwhile, an additional member of staff was handing out free bite-sized samples, so of course I tried one of those too, it was rude not to, right?

Inside my Too Good To Go bag was one of their original sea salt pretzels and two cinnamon-sugar dusted pretzels that were all as big as my head. The dough was still perfectly soft and chewy and the cinnamon sugar was extremely delicious. But one pretzel was more than enough for one person, so naturally I shared the others with my family.

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They were a bargain price as even three supermarket pretzels would probably be around £4 and half the size so I was very pleased with this mid-store stop!

Too Good To Go encourages anyone who uses its app to take pride in doing so, to help fight food waste, and suggests sharing extra food with others. The brand said: “If you have more to share, you can donate to different charities on the app. A small amount can go a long way. If you’ve bought too much food, we’d love for you to share it with someone too. It could be a neighbor. Your best friend. Or even a homeless person. Sharing is showing interest.”

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