George Costanza (actor Jason Alexander) famously uttered the line, "These pretzels are making me thirsty!" on an episode of "Seinfeld." George Costanza (actor Jason Alexander) famously uttered the line, "These pretzels are making me thirsty!" on an episode of "Seinfeld." George Costanza (actor Jason Alexander) famously uttered the line, "These pretzels are making me thirsty!" on the 28th episode of "Seinfeld." (Photo: Castle Rock)

Do pretzels really make you thirsty?

A new study has some surprising findings.

You're sitting at a bar and munching on some nuts. Yada, yada, yada and the next thing you know you're asking the bartender for a drink. After all, munching on that yummy saltiness has made you thirsty. Or has it?

According to just-released research from the University of Haifa in Israel, eating salty snacks doesn't actually cause you to grab a drink. “Our study found little support for the assumption that salt invariably increases drinking,” said Dr. Micah Leshem, who conducted the research.

This seems counter-intuitive to what most of us think. As fans of "Seinfeld" can attest, this new research appears to debunk a common myth: Pretzels indeed make you thirsty. A December 1991 episode, the sitcom's 28th, spawned one of the series' most famous catchphrases. (After it aired, fans were seen bringing pretzels to Jerry Seinfeld's standup comedy performances.)

But let's, for a moment, assume the characters on "Seinfeld" are incorrect, perhaps a little misinformed. How did the team of Israeli researchers reach a seemingly opposite conclusion?

They divided their study's participants into three groups, each offered a different bowl of nuts. One group was given sugary candied nuts, another was given salted nuts, and the third group received nuts with no additives. After consuming the goodies, members of each group rated their levels of thirst and were given water bottles to drink. There was no limit to how much water they could drink while they were there. The researchers discovered that the level of thirst the subjects reported and the amount of water they drank was no different between any of the groups.

Granted, the study only involved 58 people. A larger audience sample is needed before we should start alerting the fine folks at "MythBusters" on the Discovery Channel. But this study does provide an intriguing counter-narrative, a good starting point to how we view our snack-eating habits.

Professor Leshem suggested that “based on the findings, tavern owners can reduce the amount of salt in their bar snacks without compromising their drink sales or customer health.”

Bill Rittenour, who holds a Ph.D. in microbiology, recently opened Chestnut Brew Works, a taproom in West Virginia that makes handcrafted artisanal ale. "Personally, I don't tailor food to make people drink more," Rittenour told From The Grapevine. "If people want another beer, it should be because they actually want one, not because I shoved salty food down their throat. I think pairing food and beer should be about melding the flavors, not necessarily washing down salt."

So will bars serve fewer snacks now? Maybe, maybe not. This study is certainly an intriguing first look – as long as we take it with a grain of salt.

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