A pretzel is a type of baked bread product made from dough most commonly shaped into a twisted knot. Pretzels originated in Europe, possibly among monks in the Early Middle Ages. The traditional pretzel shape is a distinctive nonsymmetrical form, with the ends of a long strip of dough intertwined and then twisted back into itself in a certain way (“a pretzel loop”). In the 2010s, pretzels come in a range of different shapes. Salt is the most common seasoning for pretzels, complementing the washing soda or lye treatment that gives pretzels their traditional “skin” and flavor through the Maillard reaction; other seasonings include sugars, chocolate, glazes, seeds, or nuts. There are several varieties of pretzels, including soft pretzels, which must be eaten shortly after preparation and hard-baked pretzels, which have a long shelf life. Check out some awesome facts about these “little rewards”!
1. Most assume that pretzels have Christian backgrounds and were invented by European monks.
2. It is said that an Italian monk invented pretzels as a reward to children who learn their prayers.
3. He calls the strips of baked dough, folded to resemble arms crossing the chest “pretiola”, which means little reward. How cute.
4. The looped pretzel may also be related to a Greek ring bread, derived from communion bread used in monasteries a thousand years ago.
5. Another source locates the invention in a monastery in southern France.
6. In Germany, there are stories that pretzels were the invention of desperate bakers held hostage by local dignitaries
7. The pretzel has been in use as an emblem of bakers and formerly their guilds in southern German areas since at least the 12th century.
8. Pretzels without salt are called “baldies”.
9. The three holes within the pretzel represent the three persons of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
10. Southern German and Swiss German immigrants introduced the pretzel to North America in the late 18th century.
11. The immigrants became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, and in time, many handmade pretzel bakeries populated the central Pennsylvania countryside, and the pretzel’s popularity spread.
12. The largest soft pretzel of its time, weighing 40 pounds and measuring 5 feet across, is baked by Joseph Nacchio of the Federal Pretzel Baking Company for film “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” in 1963.
13. The first Pretzel Museum of soft pretzels is opened in Philadelphia, in 1993. A 7-minute film, demonstration of championship hand twisting at 57 per minute and tasting were highlights.
14. In 2003, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell declares April 26 as National Pretzel Day to acknowledge the importance of the pretzel to the state’s history and economy.
15. You can download awesome pretzel-themed ring tones for free.
16. The phrase, “tying the knot”, was inspired by pretzels.
17. The largest pretzel ever made until today in the world weighed 382 kgs (842 lbs)!
18. Americans eat around two pounds of pretzels each year, but Philadelphians eat an average of twelve pounds per year.
19. You could fill the seats in Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, with the number of Pretzel Dogs the widely known pretzel bakery “Auntie Anne’s” sells in a single weekend.
20. “Auntie” Anne Beiler and her husband Jonas purchased a farmers market stand in Pa. in 1988. It is said that they created a pretzel “better than the best you’ve ever tasted.”