Brats, pretzels, Gaffigans. Wisconsin foods take center stage at Jim Gaffigan family dinner

Wisconsin brats in pretzel buns joined comedian Jim Gaffigan and his family Thursday night for dinner. 

“Thank God you can get @johnsonville delivered.” Jim tweeted earlier that day with a photo of Johnsonville sausage, brats and other smoked meats.

“Dinner With The Gaffigans” — a nightly YouTube livestream of dinnertime with Jim, his wife Jeannie and their five children — opened with the kids around the dinner table decked out in Milwaukee Pretzel Co. T-shirts and baseball caps.

“We were delighted that he used the product and they had the shirts on,” said Milwaukee Pretzel Co. co-owner Matt Wessel. “A lot of us at the company are fans of Jim’s and we’ve been watching the show.”

Jim’s stand-up routines heavily focused on food regularly sell out arenas and netted several Netflix specials long before they started a nightly look into their dinner habits. However, Jeannie’s Wisconsin roots — she hales from Milwaukee — were part of what inspired Milwaukee Pretzel and Johnsonville to independently message Jim via social media about sending him food.

It was a good bet that a comedian best known for bits about McDonald’s, Subway and Hot Pockets would accept offers of smoked meats and pretzels. 

Within an hour of the show streaming, it got more than 20,000 views, and Wessel said they were getting notes on orders that they’d seen Milwaukee Pretzel on the Gaffigan show.

The boost in sales directly to customers is especially welcome at a time when Milwaukee Pretzel has lost sales to restaurants, taprooms and bars that are shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the episode Jim and Jeannie, who live in New York, do their Midwestern roots proud. Jim advises one son against putting mayo on his bratwurst and offers to slather on some of Sprecher Brewing’s mustard instead. They also instruct their children on the proper pronunciation of New Berlin.

Milwaukee Pretzel’s reach via the Gaffigans started the night before and extended after this episode ended.

In the previous night’s episode, Jim made pizza while wearing one of the company’s shirts.

“I have a screenshot of Jim wearing the blue ‘Eat Milwaukee Pretzels’ shirt that will get made into a print and go up on the wall here eventually,” said Wessel. 

Though of all the moments, he appreciated a short video clip of the kids around the table with pretzels in front of them and thanking Milwaukee Pretzel.

“It was cool of him to support a Midwestern brand,” said Wessel.

Daniel Higgins, Sheboygan Press

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