A pretzel is a bread pastry of German origin, that has the shape of a three looped knot or twisted braid. Pretzels are either soft or hard. Hard pretzels have evolved into a variety of shapes from knotted loops to straight "pretzel sticks" (called "Salzstangen" in German, Ropi in Hungarian). The pretzel dough is made from wheat flour, water, sugar and yeast, sprinkled with coarse salt. Pretzels are typically salted and glazed with lye [ Lye, a sodium hydroxide (NaOH), sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), or sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) solution ] . .Pretzels can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes. Traditional soft pretzels are about the size of a hand. Most hard pretzels are only 2-3 mm thick. Hard pretzels which are 0.8-1.5 cm thick are called Bavarian pretzels. Hard pretzels are also available with a sweet candy coating of chocolate, strawberry and other flavors. A popular U. S. variation is "yogurt-covered pretzels" (or "ghost-face"), with a thin coating of yogurt. Some consumers consider them a healthy snack because of this, but the coating increases the fat and sugar content of the pretzel significantly. Chocolate-covered hard pretzels are also popular, especially around Christmas time. Other varieties include pretzels dipped in mustard.

In Germany pretzels are common in Southern Germany (Swabia, Bavaria) and Switzerland, where they are often sliced horizontally, buttered and sold as "Butterbrezn". In Bavaria they eat pretzels for breakfast, with Weisswurst sausage. In Hungary they are called "perec". Big soft salty unglazed pretzels are sold fresh in every bakery. They are popular, eaten alone or together with yoghurt or milk. Tiny hard glazed pretzels and pretzel sticks are sold in packages as snacks.

Cities in the United States like Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York are also famous for their soft pretzels and the state of Pennsylvania is a core area for hard pretzel history and production. Hard pretzels are more common than soft pretzels in most of the United States as they can be mass-produced, packaged and stored. In the United States, hard pretzels popularity started as a beer snack.

History of the European Pretzel

Sources give different information for the time and place of the pretzel's origin. "The History of Science and Technology", by Ronnie Smith and Alexander Hellemans, claims that in
*610 A.D. " Italian monk invents pretzels as a reward to children who learn their prayers. He calls the strips of baked dough, folded to resemble arms crossing the chest, 'pretiola' ("little rewards")" . However no source is cited to back up these details.
*That pretzel shaped pastrys were used in the bakery emblems of bakers guilds in Southern Germany since 1111 [ is documented] .

*The 12th century "Hortus Deliciarum" from the Southwest German Alsace (today France) may be the earliest depiction of a pretzel. It is still popular in Swabia and Bavaria where it is known as Brezl and Brezn and in northern Germany, where is known as Brezel. Other sources derive the name from Latin 'bracellus" (a medieval term for "bracelet"), [E.g. OED s.v.: " [G. "pretzel", 'bretzel", in OHG. 'brizzila" = It. 'bracciello" Florio) a cracknel; usually taken as ad. med. L. 'bracellus" a bracelet; also a kind of cake or biscuit (Du Cange).] "] or 'bracchiola" ("little arms").

*Mid-1500sThe German tradition of eating pretzels during Good Friday dinner is introduced. Within the Catholic church, Pretzels are regarded as having religious significance for both ingredients and shape. Pretzels made with a simple recipe using only flour and water, could be eaten during Lent, when European Christians weren’t supposed to eat eggs, lard or dairy products like milk and butter. As time passed, pretzels became associated with both Lent and Easter. Pretzels were hidden on Easter morning just like eggs are hidden today and are particularly associated with Lent, fasting and prayers before Easter. [] The classic pretzel's three-hole shape begins to take form. The three holes represent the Christian trinity of "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," and pretzels are thought to bring luck, prosperity, and spiritual wholeness. The wedding phrase "tying the knot" got its start when a pretzel was used to tie the knot between two prominent families. The pretzel's loops stood for everlasting love.
*1609 - The shape embodied in his "Astronomia Nova", Johannes Kepler states that "If one puts all of this information together in one bundle, and at the same time believes that the sun truly moves across the Zodiac over the space of a year, as Ptolemy and Tycho Brahe believed, then it is necessary to concede that the circuits of the three above planets through etherial space are, as it were, a complex of several movements, that they are actually twisted; not like piled-up cord, with coils in a sequential order, but rather in the image of a lenten bread, as the following diagram shows..." ("panis quadragesimalis" or lenten bread is a pretzel). ['Astronomia Nova", p. [ 3] :

:"HÆC omnia si quis fasciculo uno componat, simulque credat, solem revera moveri annuo spacio per zodiacum, quod credidere Ptolemæus & Tycho Braheus; tunc necesse est concedere, trium superiorum Planetarum circuitus per spacium ætherium, sicuti sunt compositi ex pluribus motibus, esse revera spirales; non ut prius, fili glomerati modo, spiris juxta invicem ordinatis; sed verius in figura panis quadragesimalis, in hunc fere modum.":"..."]

History of the American Pretzel

The annual United States pretzel industry is worth over $550 million. The average American consumes about 1.5 pounds (0.7 kg) of pretzels per year.Fact|date=August 2008 Southeastern Pennsylvania, with its large German population, is considered the birthplace of the American pretzel industry and many pretzel bakers are still located in the area. The average Philadelphian consumes about twelve times more pretzels than the national average. [ [] ]

1700 - The soft pretzel was part of the southern German and Swiss German tradition. The large immigrant population became the thrifty Pennsylvania Dutch [Due to the etymological equivalence between the English word "Dutch" and the German word Deutsch ("German"), "Dutch" has been used historically in the English-speaking world to refer to some things that are not Dutch but German] culture. The pretzels popularity spread and, in time, many handmade pretzel bakeries dotted the Pennsylvania Dutch landscape.

1861 - Sturgis bakery in Lititz, Pennsylvania, becomes the first commercial pretzel bakery in the US in 1850. Long wooden paddles, also known as “peels,” were used by the baker and his helper to place the pretzels on a stationary stone or brick hearth in the oven. A wider “peel” was then used to remove the pretzels from the oven.

1884 - Bachman pretzel bakery founded in Reading, Pennsylvania

1889 - The Anderson Pretzel Factory, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, calls itself the world's largest (65 tons daily). They have made pretzels by hand from 1889 to 1955 when machines were added.

1909 - Snyder's of Hanover founded in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

1922 - Federal Baking Company South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was founded by Italian American Edmund Nacchio who followed his mother Maria Nacchio’s bakery pretzels that she began baking in 1922. It was continued by the various family members for four generations until it was sold to J&J Snack foods in the year 2000. Federal Baking lays claim for being the oldest baking soft pretzels in the city and made a major impact on the popular culture of Philadelphia comfort foods. This soft pretzel became synonymous with the Philadelphia soft pretzels. It was often slathered with yellow mustard estimated at a quart for each 200 pretzels sold. Street vendors for 80 years sold them on street corners in wooden glass enclosed cases or employed young boys to make extra cash who walked through the streets carrying baskets loaded with soft hot pretzels yelling aloud the phrase ’Fresh Pret-zels’ It became a staple Philadelphia food for snacking at school, at work or home and considered by most to be a quick meal.

1933 -The modern age of pretzel making began when the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company first introduced the automatic pretzel twisting machine. Prior to that, most commercial pretzels were actually shaped by a cracker-cutting machine, then placed on baking pans and put into the baking ovens by hand. 1946 -Tom Sturgis Pretzel Company founded by Marriot D. “Tom” Sturgis, grandson to Julius. The first bakery was located on Grape Street in Reading, where the current Reading Area Community College is located. The giant pretzel in the front of the building serving as a landmark.

1948 - At the bicentennial of the city, there were at least 15 in the Reading/Berks area. The key to the City of Reading even has a pretzel on it.

1960 - By 1960, total pretzel sales reached $92 million. In the mid-60's, pretzels were the fourth most popular snack in the US and the number one snack with beer. Pretzel technology moved from hand-twisting to machine-twisting to die-cut production.

1963 -Largest pretzel ever baked: It was 40 lbs, 5-feet across baked by Joseph Nacchio of Federal Baking, Philadelphia, PA. The largest pretzel in the movies at 20 lb., 4’ pretzel shown in the 1963 movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World” by the same baker.

1978 -First machine produced soft pretzel. Federal Baking Company used the original 1922 recipe but the last hand-twisted pretzel was made in 1978. Labor became too expensive and workers too hard to find. Machines were designed and at 7 pretzels a second, nearly 60,000 are extruded and baked daily. There was no change in taste or texture. The pretzel were of the same dimensions but denser and heavier (three and a half to four ounces) than the hand-twists sampled, and bears the unmistakable grainy machine surface. It also baked longer and hotter at 12 minutes. A wholewheat soft pretzel was attempted but harder to work in the machine and was discontinued.

1993 - The Pretzel Museum opens in Philadelphia by members of the Nacchio family dynasty to highlight the area’s preference for their more unique more rectangle shaped styled pretzels being baked soft and unlike the dominant more circular hard pretzels produced in western Pennsylvania. Champion hand pretzel twister Helen Hoff demonstrated producing 57 pretzels per minute at this first museum.

2003 - Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell declares April 26th "National Pretzel Day" to acknowledge the importance of the pretzel to the state's history and economy. Congress declared it in 1983, but stopped the "commemorative day" practice in 1998. Pennsylvania produces 80% of the nation's pretzels.

ee also

List of English words of German origin


External links

* [ History at Snyders of Hanover]
* [ History at SuperPretzel]
* [ Hammond Pretzels]
* [ Video of how Soft Pretzels are made at J&J Snack Foods]

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  • Pretzel — ist der Name folgender Personen: Ernst Pretzel (1887–1943), deutscher Politiker (NSDAP) Raimund Pretzel, bürgerlicher Name des deutschen Publizisten Sebastian Haffner (1907−1999) Ulrich Pretzel (1898–1981), deutscher Germanist eine amerikanische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Pretzel — Pret zel, n. [G. pretzel, bretzel. Cf. {Bretzel}.] A kind of German biscuit or cake in the form of a twisted ring, salted on the outside. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Pretzel — (Bäckerei), so v.w. Bretzel …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • pretzel — (n.) 1856, from Ger. Prezel, also Brezel, from O.H.G. brezitella, from M.L. *brachitellum, presumably a kind of biscuit baked in the shape of folded arms (Cf. It. bracciatella, O.Prov. brassadel), dim. of L. bracchiatus with branches, with arms,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • pretzel — ► NOUN chiefly N. Amer. ▪ a crisp biscuit baked in the shape of a knot or stick and flavoured with salt. ORIGIN German …   English terms dictionary

  • pretzel — ☆ pretzel [pret′səl ] n. [Ger brezel < OHG brezitella < ML * brachiatellum, dim. of * brachiatum, biscuit baked in form of crossed arms < L brachium, an arm: see BRACE1] a usually hard, brittle biscuit made from a slender roll of dough… …   English World dictionary

  • pretzel — pret·zel (prĕt’səl) n. ▸ A soft or brittle glazed biscuit that is usually salted on the outside and baked in the form of a loose knot or stick. ╂ [German Brezel, from Middle High German brēzel, prēzel, from Old High German brēzila, brezzitella,… …   Word Histories

  • Pretzel — Un pretzel duro. Un pretzel suave. Un pretzel …   Wikipedia Español

  • pretzel — /pret seuhl/, n. 1. a crisp, dry biscuit, usually in the form of a knot or stick, salted on the outside. 2. a larger version of this, made of soft, chewy bread dough. [1815 25, Amer.; < G Pretzel, var. of Bretzel; OHG brizzila < ML bracellus… …   Universalium

  • pretzel — UK [ˈprets(ə)l] / US [ˈpretsəl] noun [countable] Word forms pretzel : singular pretzel plural pretzels a type of cracker that people often eat between meals or with beer. It is baked in the shape of a stick or a knot and covered with salt …   English dictionary

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