History of Pretzels

So… It turns out we humans don’t know as much as we think we know about the history of pretzels. Try researching the history of pretzels and you’ll see why this is not an open-and-shut case of historical fact. Some folks say, “Oh, that’s easy—an Italian monk made them in the year 610.” And they say the pretzel shape is related to arms crossed, with hands on opposite shoulders—the way children stand when they’re blessed by the priest before they can take Eucharist (Holy Communion). But there are other history-of-food scholars who say the baked pretzel with its classic shape started centuries before Christ was born. 

So—let’s just go with what we’re sure of! We’re pretty sure the pretzels we’re most familiar with today came from the word “Bretzel” in German, and that Germans were deeply involved in bringing them to America. The Pennsylvania Dutch (a misnomer—“Dutch” is actually from “Deutsch” or German, in this case!) clearly started making them in parts of the USA when they emigrated here. 

These two stories on History.com and The Spruce Eats have some credible info about the more recent evolution of pretzels, as we know them. You'll also enjoy this article from Berks History Center about how Reading, Pennsylvania became the pretzel capital of the world.


…Actually, if you come across any great research or pretzel stories, please send them to pretzelcitypress@gmail.com!

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