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Pretzels

A pretzel  is a type of baked food made from dough in soft and hard varieties and savory or sweet flavors in a unique knot-like shape, originating in Europe. 

There are two basic types-soft and hard pretzels. Soft pretzels are more traditional and are about the same size as an open hand. Hard pretzels come in more sizes from 3-4 inches across to miniature pretzels just one inch wide. Shapes are more varied too. Some have extra thick dough or come in long sticks

As early as 610AD at a monastery somewhere in Southern France or Northern Italy, where monks used scraps of dough and formed them into strips to represent a child's arms folded in prayer. The three empty holes represented the Christian Trinity.

The monks offered the warm, doughy bribe to children. The monks used the inter-connected sections of the "pretzel" to help the children understand the Christian Trinity of "Father, Son and Holy Ghost.".

The monks called it a Pretiola, Latin for little reward. From there, the pretzel transformed into the Italian word, Brachiola, which means little arms.

The Pretiola journeyed beyond the French and Italian wine regions, all across Europe and to Germany, where it became known as the Bretzel or Pretzel.

In medieval times merchants traveling to the Frankfurt Fair risked being robbed by bandits. In order to guard the tradesmen, the towns' people would ride out, greet the vendors and offer them pewter pitchers of wine and loads of crisp dough on their spears, called Geleit-pretzels.

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.

A twelfth-century illustration shows a pretzel at a banquet for the Persian King Ahasuerus.

The pretzel's shape became a symbol of good luck and many believed the shape was also symbolic of long life and good health.

It's believed soft pretzels found their way to America onboard the Mayflower in 1620.


German immigrants, now known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, brought soft Bavarian Pretzels to Pennsylvania. The  many handmade pretzel bakeries populated the central Pennsylvania countryside, and the pretzel's popularity spread.

The "Hard" pretzel was created by accident, in the small town of Lititz, when Julius Sturgis decided to try some soft pretzels he'd burned in 1861:

"He said, 'You know what? These taste pretty good! 'If we can make these kinds of pretzels they'd last a whole lot longer, people could keep them in their homes for a long time, and we could make more money."

Founded in 1861, the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery is the first commercial pretzel bakery in America.

In the 20th century, soft pretzels became extremely popular in other regions of the United States.

Pretzel Vendor, Brooklyn, New York 1956

 Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York became renowned for their soft pretzels.

. London's Mayor Boris Johnson buys a pretzel during a trip to New York City.

 

The average Philadelphian today consumes about 20 pounds of pretzels a year - the national average is 2 pounds.

Philadelphia soft pretzels are distinguished from all others by their shape (a figure-8, not loopy with a thick center and thinner ends), their texture (chewy, not crunchy), and their distribution method (look for them on street corners, not supermarkets). They come lightly salted, or, on request, as “baldies.”

Pennsylvania today is the center of American pretzel production for both the hard crispy and the soft bread types of pretzels. Southeastern Pennsylvania, with its large population of German background, is considered the birthplace of the American pretzel industry, and many pretzel bakers are still located in the area. Pennsylvania produces 80% of the nation's pretzels.

Federal Pretzel Baking Company of South Philadelphia was the first large scale manufacturing soft pretzel factory in Philadelphia and the United States of America. The impact of the recipe, production, and distribution established it as a new standard cuisine of Philadelphia during the 1900s. The company was continued by the various family members for four generations until it was sold to J&J Snack foods in the year 2000.

Vendor  selling pretzels in the middle of Munich's Oktoberfest

Pretzels are great snack and treat and are enjoyed all over the world.