The Origin of The Pretzel

By Boardwalk Food Company on March 7, 2022

Were you aware that according to Statistica, approximately 15.05 million Americans consumed six or more bags of pretzels in 2020? Pretzels are soft and salty delicious snacks that are often hard to resist. 

Throughout the United States, you can find pretzels anywhere from movie theaters and supermarkets to sports stadiums and county fairs. Yet, what do you really know about the history of pretzels? Despite what you may believe, pretzels were not invented in America. In fact, the history of the pretzel lies across the expansive Atlantic ocean in Southern Germany. 

We’re going to have a closer look into the fascinating origins of the pretzel so that you know a bit more about what you’re eating the next time you host a game night of beer and pretzels. If, after reading the origin story of the pretzel gets your taste buds tingling for a uniquely flavored pretzel, you might want to try the craft pretzels from the Boardwalk Food Company. Trust us; they are the perfect social snack.

The History Behind The Origin Of The Pretzel

Interestingly, the history of the pretzel is far more complex than you might believe. According to sources, the first instance of pretzels being invented was in 610 C.E. 

It’s believed that monks in southern France and northern Italy would twist and bake pieces of dough as a treat to bribe and reward children who could successfully memorize their prayers and bible verses. Additionally, the shape the monks twisted these pieces of dough into is thought to represent the concept of a child praying with its arms folded over. The monks called this treat 'pretiola’, which evolved into ‘brachiola’ and ‘bretzel.’

It is also believed that the Catholic Church played an instrumental role in the early history of the pretzel. During the seventh century, the church enforced stricter rules for fasting and abstinence during Lent. That’s initially why pretzels became popular. It was one of the only foods that Catholics could eat during this holy time. 

Pretzels went on to become incredibly popular during the Middle Ages. They were often seen as a symbol of spiritual fulfillment, good luck, and prosperity. Often pretzels would be given to the poor because they were seen as a food that would provide them with spiritual and literal substance. 

Notably, pretzels were involved in a particularly dramatic event in 1501. Historical texts indicate that when Ottoman Turks tried to dig tunnels underneath city walls to invade Vienna, Austria, pretzel bakers put a stop to it by alerting the city to the attack. For their heroic actions, the pretzel bakers were given their own coat of arms. 

Fast forward to the 17th century. During this time, the interlocking loops of a pretzel were believed to symbolize undying love. According to legend, royal couples would use pretzels in their ceremonies to seal the bond of matrimony. Additionally, in Germany, many of the children wore pretzels around their necks to symbolize prosperity and good luck for the new year.

How Has The Pretzel Evolved In Modern Times?

It’s clear to see that the pretzel has an intriguing history. Yet, as a famous American snack, it’s unsurprising that pretzels have evolved and become amazingly delicious treats. Although this simple treat of flour, salt, yeast, and water is still available in its historical form, there have been deviations from this original recipe. 

Today, you can buy crunchy, thin, doughy, or thick pretzels that are plain, covered in cinnamon sugar, dipped in cheese, or filled with chocolate. You can even purchase multigrain pretzels or pretzels with jalapeno, honey mustard, or barbeque seasonings. Yet, perhaps best of all is the new invention of beer-flavored craft pretzels that you can purchase from the Boardwalk Food Company. 

Pretzels are a snack that one can enjoy at any time of the day and on any occasion. Whether you are hosting a bachelor’s party, a football game night, an engagement party, or even a wedding, pretzels are a go-to choice. 

If you’re interested in trying the many craft beer pretzel flavor options the Boardwalk Food Company has on offer; you have come to the right place. We have Pilsner, stout, and beer cheese flavor pretzels, and many more. When you’re ready to listen to your taste buds, you can contact us by filling out our online form.

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