One of my guilty pleasures is eating pretzels. Yes, I know they’re loaded with carbs and sodium, but boy are they great! Today, April 26, is National Pretzel Day. And who doesn’t love a good pretzel?! Many of our panel members do, especially those who live in the Northeast. Take a look at some 2020 NCP stats:
The states, etc., where panelists reported the most pretzel purchases on average:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Washington, D.C.
The states where panelists reported the fewest pretzel purchases on average:
Months where panelists reported the most money spent on pretzels:
The History Of The Pretzel
So where does the word pretzel come from? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, pretzel comes from the German brezel, which came from the Latin bracellus or brachiatellus, meaning “little arms” because the twist of the pretzel is reminiscent of arms folded in prayer.
Now when it comes to who invented the pretzel, you have to go back several centuries. According to nationaltoday.com, sometime around the 7th Century A.D., monks presented their students with treats of baked dough twisted in the shape of crossed arms. At the time, crossing one’s arms was the traditional posture for prayer. Also, pretzels, made from water, flour, and salt, were also the perfect food for Lent — when meat, dairy, and eggs were prohibited.
Pretzel Fun Facts
- Pretzels were a part of wedding ceremonies in the 16th century. Similar to a wishbone, the bride and groom would make a wish, break the pretzel and eat it as a symbol of their union.
- The first pretzel to journey to America is thought to have come over on the Mayflower.
- While the pretzel shape is symbolic in origin, it is also practical. Bakers could hang them by their loops on strings and sticks, making it convenient to display.
- Pretzels are often accompanied by toppings and can also be stuffed. Popular flavors include melted cheese, mustard, caramel or icing.
- Unsalted pretzels have earned the nickname of “baldies.”
- Hard pretzels were “invented” in the late 1600s, when a snoozing apprentice in a Pennsylvania bakery accidentally over baked his pretzels, creating crunchy, seemingly inedible, knots. His job was spared when the master baker, attempting admonishment, took an angry bite out of one–and loved it.
- Julius Sturgis opened the first commercial pretzel bakery in Lititz, Pennsylvania, in 1861. He received his original pretzel recipe as a thank you from a down-on-his-luck job seeker after Sturgis gave the man dinner.
- Until the 1930s, pretzels were handmade, and the average worker could twist 40 a minute. In 1935, the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company introduced the first automated pretzel machine, which enabled large bakeries to make 245 pretzels per minute, or five tons in a day.
- Pennsylvania makes 80% of the nation’s pretzel production.
- About $550 million worth of pretzels are sold in the United States on an annual basis.
- The average U.S. citizen consumes up to two pounds of pretzels per year, but Philadelphians snack on about 12 pounds of pretzels per person every year.
Have A Pretzel, Or Two
Since it’s National Pretzel Day, you know you can find some freebies! Check out this list:
Do you love pretzels? Tell us about your favorites by leaving a comment in the section below.
Enjoy pretzel day today!