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by Jason Torchinsky
Remember Combos? Those little pretzel cylinders filled with cheesy goodness? No? Well, I sure as hell do. But, sometimes, it seems like I'm the only one. See, even though it has already been firmly established in America's collective consciousness that Combos are capable of "cheesing" one's hunger away, I can't find the damn things anywhere. Anywhere! I've looked all over: grocery stores, convenience marts, gas stations, kitchens, other people's kitchens, pockets, glove boxes, colons, gutters, drains, alleys, crevasses, everywhere!

But Combos are nowhere to be found. And, dear God, I need to cheese my hunger away. So what am I to do? Well, everyone who knows me knows I give my full 29% to everything I do. So if that means I need some Combos to cheese my hunger away, then, brothers and sisters, Combos I shall have. Even if I have to make them myself.

So that's what I did. Using an old Combo I found in a discarded ski jacket pocket as a template, I reverse-engineered Combos while documenting each step of the process. By following my procedures, anyone with rudimentary tools and skills can soon be manufacturing their own Combos by the bushel. Now, please be aware that these procedures do involve power tools, so you might want to consider safety goggles and limiting your alcohol intake to just, say, 2 martinis before attempting.

Required materials/tools:
  • 1 power drill with a 17/64" - 1/4" bit
  • a supply of large-diameter pretzel sticks
  • a clamp
  • sheets of fine-grade sandpaper
  • a supply of cheese balls or some other malleable cheese source
  • a hand saw
First, select a suitable pretzel stick from your supply. With a ruler, demark it into approx. 1" segments. Then, using a hand saw, carefully saw off each segment.
Next, carefully clamp the pretzel shaft segment into a vise. Be careful to ensure that the pretzel segment is held firmly, but no crushing of the shaft is occurring. Then, using a power drill with a 17/64" to 1/4" bit, carefully and slowly drill a channel through the entire segment. The diameter of this channel will directly affect how much hunger-cheesing potential each Combo will maintain.
Remove the Combo chassis from the clamp. Make sure your central channel goes all the way through and that the walls of the channel are even and smooth. A Dremel tool of the proper diameter may be used to remove burrs or other imperfections.
Now, position one of the cheese balls from your supply on a clean surface. Remove any excess nuts or plastic covering from the cheese ball. Using your fingers and thumb, force the Combo chassis all the way through the cheese ball, filling the entire central cavity with cheese. Alternately, a Cheez Whiz ™ canister in a caulk gun may be utilized to fill the channel.
Once the Combo exits the cheese ball, inspect it. Is the channel entirely filled with cheese? Are there any obvious air pockets? Has the chassis cracked, or ruptured? If it all checks out, proceed to the next step. If not, discard the failed Combo and begin anew.
Using fine grit sandpaper, sand off any excess cheese and lightly buff the outer shell of the Combo. Slightly more vigorous sanding may be applied to either end of the Combo, if desired.
You've done it. You've made your very own Combo. Hunger, meet thy cheeser!

© copyright 2001 The Van Gogh-Goghs