Once upon a time, there were no pretzels. This was a problem for the mustard industry and the chocolate covered pretzel industry, so in the year 610 some monks came to the rescue. They took some leftover dough, and shaped it to look like children’s arms resting across their chests, baked, and handed them out as treats to kids who learned their prayers properly. These “little rewards” were called “pretiola” which is Italian for “this will be a winner in the snack food industry.”
Not only were pretzels (probably) invented by monks, they are also associated with religion because they are egg-free and dairy-free which made them excellent for Lent. So when you eat pretzels, you can feel pious and very virtuous.
Pretzels without salt are called “baldies.” They are my personal favorite.
In the late 12th century (which is before I was born), the pretzel became the symbol for the baker’s guild. Apparently, making a flawless pretzel was the pinnacle of baking achievement and one could not be considered a master baker until one perfected the art. This is ridiculous since everyone knows that the epitome of baking is creating the perfect New York bagel.
Do you know why we say people tie the knot when they get married? Pretzels. (Seriously.) In Switzerland, newlyweds traditionally break a pretzel on their wedding day for good luck. Don’t laugh—at least you can eat a broken pretzel.
The original pretzels were of the soft pretzel variety. Hard pretzels were created in the 1660s when an apprentice pretzel baker fell asleep and overbaked a batch of pretzels. Which turned out to be a good thing for those of us who like to crunch things.
The world’s largest pretzel weighed 842 lbs. It was 26.8 feet long and 10.2 feet wide. I cannot even image the amount of dipping sauce necessary.
Americans eat around two pounds of pretzels each year, but Philadelphians eat an average of twelve pounds per year. Pennsylvanians also manufacture most of the US pretzels. It’s probably something in the water.
Happy National Pretzel Day!