Joel McHale Launches A Quest For Real Gold With Rold Gold - Exclusive Interview

While you probably never realized it, there's one snack that's always been quietly in the background of our lives, and our pantries. It's a trusty treat we've all crunched on during a long plane flight, or sipping beers at the pub, catching up on after-school specials, and more. For more than a century, Rold Gold pretzels have been a snacking staple, and an important part of our pop culture.

That's exactly what Rold Gold wants to remind us all with its newest campaign. The company is sending fans on a literal treasure hunt to discover all the pop culture moments over the last several decades featuring our favorite pretzels, including "'80s film classics, iconic '90s sitcoms, recent comedy and drama shows, sporting events," and more. And it wouldn't be a treasure hunt without a prize, so Rold Gold says fans who participate will have the chance to win real gold, with the company planning to dish out more than $106,000.

Kicking off the campaign is none other than the king of pop culture himself: actor, comedian, and former host of "The Soup," Joel McHale. Part of McHale's claim to fame has been helping us navigate some of the most iconic moments of pop culture, with endless laughs along the way. Now, in an exclusive interview with Mashed, McHale is snacking on pretzels and sharing all the details of the Rold Gold Gold Hunters Campaign. He also gave a sneak peek into his newest show, clapped back at his frenemy, Ken Jeong, and so much more.

Rold Gold wants to give away thousands of dollars in real gold

Tell us about the Rold Gold Gold Hunters campaign and how people can get involved.

Did you know that Rold Gold is 106 years old?

I did not.

Name another snack that old ... Exactly, you can't. This has legacy status now, and boy, I eat a lot of them. To celebrate 106 years, [Rold Gold is] doing a big hunt for gold. And I'm not joking. You could win actual gold bars.

The way you hunt for gold ... [Rold Gold] has spread clues and hints [about finding their pretzels] all throughout pop culture — '80s sitcoms, '90s movies, songs, stage shows, whatever. Rold Gold is a part of American culture.

If you see a Rold Gold bag or see someone eating them in something, you [use the] hashtag #foundgold and tag Rold Gold on [social media]. Then, you will possibly be selected as one of 60 random winners who could [collectively] win [more than] $106,000 worth of gold bars. I think it's a really fun way to watch television and to watch movies and listen to music.

I'm an actual clue! I actually was in a thing where I had Rold Gold with me.

Can you give us a hint?

I'm going to give you four hints. Here it is: friends, housewife, scheme inspector. Now, it's in your subconscious.

Also, you can go to, and they have a bunch of hints and clues they'll be dropping all summer. It goes 'til September 11th, and it's a fun contest for one of the most classic brands in America.

What would you even do with all that gold?

I use it to pay for dinners. Yeah, they're very impressed. I make sure that I order a lot.

Joe McHale on Rold Gold's place in American pop culture

Were you surprised just how often Rold Gold actually does pop up in pieces of pop culture?

Yeah. The way that America has branded things is an art unto itself, and I'm not kidding. When you watch television shows that have the fake labels, you immediately get pulled out of the show, because you're like, "That's not real," but when you see actual brands ...

Tony Scott, of all people, said it about [product placement] in the first "Top Gun." He was like, "Those things are beautiful and they're very distinctly American." I thought that was really cool. I didn't think about it that way.

Can you talk a little bit on the inspiration behind this campaign. How would you describe Rold Gold's connection to pop culture throughout the decades?

Think about [around] 106 years ago [when Rold Gold] started making these pretzels, and then it becomes this empire, like Lego or something like that. This is older than that. It's so ubiquitous in a really good way, because people love eating them. If someone's eating at a barbecue on television or in a movie, you're going to see them ... You'll see that there's a zillion hints and clues on and you'll be like, "Oh, it's everywhere." You can win gold, actual gold. Think about it.

It's no surprise that you, being the king of pop culture in many ways, would be involved with a campaign like this. What's your favorite pop culture era or moment?

Probably when I was doing "The Soup" since E! was paying me to tell jokes, which had never happened to me before in my life. That era was really fun because it was ... I don't want to say it's the golden age of reality shows, but there was an unpolished, unknown ... That's when reality shows exploded and there were no rules at that point. Now, a lot of reality is very polished. The edges are definitely worn down, so no one gets hurt. There's a formula to a lot of them, but before, during that time it was ... Who knew what was going to be happening?

From "Jersey Shore" to every show Flava Flav was on, to "Being Bobby Brown", to ... well, I guess "The Real World" kicked the whole thing off. It really has changed. The rules are different now, but boy ... We always had so many extra clips that we could have shown. I don't know if that's the case now. Television and how you consume it has changed drastically, but yeah, that was a really fun time.

Joel McHale shares his favorite ways to eat Rold Gold pretzels

What is your favorite way to eat Rold Gold pretzels or your favorite thing to pair them with?

I usually start on the side. Then I go [to the other side], then I complete it. Three bites for me. Some people like to put two or three in at a time. I do three bites.

For snacking, you like them plain and crunchy? You're not a dip or a cheese-and-pretzel guy?

I'm not a huge dipper of pretzels. I like the distinct flavor of a pretzel. If it's a tortilla chip or a potato chip, yes, I'll dip away, but I like eating them the way they are. If I go into a pub or public house and they've got these and a beer, [it's] pretty great.

If it's a barbecue, then it's usually with some sort of lager or pilsner, maybe an IPA. Could be a double IPA if I'm feeling really bold. I also [am currently] eating them in the morning, so I just had a cup of coffee with them. There you go.

I've used them as a crumble on top of salmon. That worked really well on a cedar plank salmon. You put some mayonnaise and some Sriracha on there and you crumble some pretzels. Hold onto your hat.

The snack feud continues between Joel McHale and Ken Jeong

Talking about snack food and these pretzel distinctions, it's bringing me back to earlier this year, when you and Ken Jeong had your Planters mixed nuts feud. Did you guys ever settle that debate, first of all?

I won. So sorry, Ken Jeong, but I won.

Well, it's got me wondering, if we ask Ken Jeong about his favorite way to eat a Rold Gold pretzel or pair them with, what do you think he would say?

I don't even care. No, just kidding. The pretzels look really big in his tiny little hands, so he'll probably eat them with two hands. He's probably gotta have six fingers on them at once there, because he's got to hold that big pretzel.

While he did throw the gauntlet down against you when Mashed spoke to him, he did have a lot of nice things to say, and he mentioned that you were an incredible cook.

Now I feel bad. Thanks a lot. That's how he uses his kryptonite on me. When he is kind, I don't know what to say.

He's one of my best friends of all time, and we got to know each other years ago. We counted it up. We met each other in 2009, [and] we were like, "What? Where did the time go?" We've been thick as thieves for a while. He's one of my favorites. Don't tell him I said it! I'm going to cry.

Joel McHale says his new show Celebrity Beef will be the best kind of food fight

What can you share with us about your upcoming show "Celebrity Beef”?

Well, it's on E!, which I never expected to be back on, but I am. Crazy. When they asked me back, they were like, "Hey, all the people that were here when you left are gone." I'm like, "Great. I'll come back."

I was only going to do it if the idea was good, and I think the idea was good ... it is a very easy hang with celebrities, and I host it. It's a lot of jokes and a lot of yelling over a light argument. There happens to be a bunch of food getting made, and I make up all the rules. It's really easy for me, and if they're not done in time, I'm like, "That's fine. Have another five minutes."

It's not scrutinized the way that Gordon Ramsey or Curtis Stone ... Believe me, I love those shows, but ... The food would not hold up to those standards, but it is tasty. I ate a lot and I gained weight, so I'm working it off now.

Are we going to be seeing gourmet quality food here, or is it like a hot mess in the kitchen?

Oh yeah, it's a mess. Definitely. It is a huge mess, and gourmet? No, but definitely comfort food.

Are there any match-ups that you can tease for us now that we're going to see that you're excited about?

There's going to be some [members from] "Real Housewives," some [from "The Bachelor," and other]  actors. We got Chris Evans and Matt Damon going up against each other. That's about [all] I can say.

Joel McHale on Crime Scene Kitchen and the pitfalls of baking

"Crime Scene Kitchen" was renewed for a second season. Have you filmed the second season already?

Yeah, we have filmed it. It is classically trained bakers and then self-taught bakers, and it's a very interesting thing to see how they go about executing these very intricate desserts that are so tasty. I am intimidated by them, because getting a dessert right is so difficult. It's like launching a rocket where everything has to go right in a very short period of time. It was really amazing to see the level of skill ... It really is impressive. I'm the host wearing neat sweaters, whereas Curtis Stone and Yolanda Gampp are true experts. I gained weight doing that because I ate everything.

What's the most interesting thing that you've learned either about baking since you've been doing this?

For desserts, it's the timing. You make a dinner, it's like, "Okay, we'll get everything out here, hopefully around the same time." If you screw up one ingredient in a cake or one of these elaborate desserts — and this is my amateur palate — you can tell the difference immediately.

I never knew there were so many different kinds of buttercream. It's crazy. If you overdo it, you know it. If you underdo it, you know it. If you put a little too much salt in, you know it. If you don't let it cool properly, you can tell. There's so many pitfalls. When someone gets it right in the short period of time, it is danged impressive.

Click here to learn more about the Rold Gold Gold Hunters Campaign, find new clues, and enter for a chance to win real gold.