History Podcasts

The Pretzel: A Twisted History

The Pretzel: A Twisted History

The Catholic Church played a leading role in the early history of the pretzel. In the seventh century, the church dictated stricter rules governing fasting and abstinence during Lent than it does today. Pretzels, made of a simple mixture of water, flour and salt, were an ideal food to consume during Lent, when all types of meat, dairy and eggs were prohibited.

The first pretzels were baked as a soft, squishy bread, like the soft pretzels of today. Some say they were originally called “bracellae,” the Latin term for “little arms,” from which Germans later derived the word “bretzel.” According to others, the earliest pretzels were dubbed “pretiolas,” meaning “little rewards,” and handed out by the monks when their young pupils recited their prayers correctly. Whatever they may have been called, the popularity of these twisty treats spread across Europe during the Middle Ages. Seen as a symbol of good luck, prosperity and spiritual fulfillment, pretzels were also commonly distributed to the poor, as a way of providing them with both spiritual and literal sustenance.

Pretzels—or those who made them—took a particularly dramatic turn in the spotlight in 1510, when Ottoman Turks attempted to invade Vienna, Austria, by digging tunnels underneath the city’s walls. Monks baking pretzels in the basement of a monastery heard the enemy’s progress and alerted the rest of the city, then helped defeat the Turkish attack. As a reward, the Austrian emperor gave the pretzel bakers their own coat of arms.

By the 17th century, the interlocking loops of the pretzel had come to symbolize undying love as well. Pretzel legend has it that in 1614 in Switzerland, royal couples used a pretzel in their wedding ceremonies (similar to how a wishbone might be used today) to seal the bond of matrimony, and that this custom may have been the origin of the phrase “tying the knot.” In Germany—the country and people most associated with the pretzel throughout history—17th-century children wore pretzel necklaces on New Year’s to symbolize good luck and prosperity for the coming year.

When did pretzels make their way to America? One rumor has it that the doughy knots came over on the Mayflower, and were used by the Pilgrims for trade with the Native Americans they met in the New World. German immigrants certainly brought pretzels with them when they began settling in Pennsylvania around 1710. In 1861, Julius Sturgis founded the first commercial pretzel bakery in the town of Lititz in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Sturgis also claimed credit for developing the first hard pretzels—or at least, for being the first to intentionally bake hard pretzels (rather than leave the soft ones in the oven too long by accident). The crispy snacks lasted longer in an airtight container, allowing them to be sold further away from the bakery itself and to stay on shelves longer. Eventually, hard pretzels would come to be arguably even more popular than their soft counterparts.

Until the 1930s, pretzels were still manufactured by hand. But in 1935, the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company introduced the first automated pretzel maker, which enabled bakers to put out some 245 pretzels per minute, compared with the 40 per minute an individual worker could make by hand. Today, Pennsylvania remains the American pretzel-making capital, as a full 80 percent of U.S.-made pretzels come from the Keystone State.


The company took us name from its trademark dark ride, The Pretzel, so called because of its track's winding, prezel-like layout. [1] It may also have been influenced by the comment of someone who rode the ride's prototype: "It felt like I was turned and twisted like a pretzel".

The company was established in 1928, founders Marvin Rempfer and Leon Cassidy patented a single-rail dark ride [2] which they constructed in Tumbling Dam Park on the banks of Sunset Lake in Bridgeton, New Jersey. The company remained in Bridgeton throughout its existence.

A large heavy pretzel design was originally affixed to the front of each car to prevent the car from flipping backwards. In 1929, a standard Pretzel ride had five cars, 350 feet of track, a riding time of one and a half minutes, and sold for $1,200.

Portable pretzel rides for carnivals weighed about 9 tons. They were transported on huge moving vans. For the first three decades, Pretzel rides were single story. Beginning in the 1950s, two-story "double decker" rides were also made whose cars were hoisted to the second story by a lift chain during the ride. Leon Cassidy was not in favor of the double-decker version. The Mad Giant was 17 tons, 40'x 8' on trailer, and 70'x30' when opened, and took about five hours to set up. Pretzel also made spinning rides, including a famous one for Coney Island.

Leon's son William Cassidy ran the company after his father. He sold the rights to build the rides in 1979.

Pretzel rides were usually themed. They included The Caveman, Haunted House, Lost Mine, Gold Nugget, Thunderbird Jr. Ride, Toonerville Trolley, Whirlo, Kiddie Circus, Devil's Cave/Pirate's Cove/Bucket O' Blood (the same ride rethemed), Devils Inn, Winter Wonderland, Orient Express, Mad Giant, Laff in the Dark, Laff in the Dark with spinning cars, Laffland, Pirates Cave, Pirates Den, Paris After Dark, Arabian Nights Tunnel of Love/Casper's Ghostland, Treasure Island, Spook-A-Rama, Le Cachot/Safari/Zoomerang, and 3 Dante's Infernos.


The Twisted History of Pretzels

Oh pretzels, how I dearly love you! As long as I can remember I have loved pretzels. They have been one of my favorite foods for so long because they are perfect. They can be crunchy, soft, hot, cold, it doesn’t matter they always taste good. But where do they come from?

Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Pretzels have actually been around for hundreds of years and date back to the Middle Ages. They were often passed out to the poor because they were thought to symbolize good luck and prosperity.

Pretzels made their way to America with the Germans, who settled in Pennsylvania in 1710. It wasn’t until 1861 that pretzels were made at a bakery owned by Julius Sturgis.

Sturgis also has the credit of creating the hard pretzel. This snack was one of the first snacks that could be stored and last a long time without going bad. This also meant that companies could ship the hard pretzels to stores across the country.

In the 1930s, the first automated pretzel machine was invented by the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company. The machine could produce 245 pretzels per minute! To this day, Pennsylvania is still the pretzel capital of America!

What is your favorite kind of pretzel? Do you like hard or soft pretzels better? Any flavor you like? Share with me by commenting below!


History of Pretzel

Pretzel can be traced back to Roman times and they have long been traditional in Alsace and Germany.

Pretzels were developed as an option to satisfy abstinence and fasting laws of the time. Eggs, fat, and milk were forbidden during Lent. So, the remaining ingredients that one could use included water, flour, and salt. A young monk baked the first pretzel —making a Lenten bread of water, flour, and salt, forming the dough into the prayer position of the day, and baking it as soft bread. These first pretzels would have been much like the soft pretzels.

Pretzels are glazed, salted biscuits shaped into long tubes that are often twisted into knots. The word “pretzel” derives from German, but the Dutch may have first introduced pretzels into America. There is a story that in 1652 a settler name Jochem Wessels was arrested for using good flour to make pretzels to sells to the Indians at a time when his white neighbors were eating bran flour.

The first mention of the word pretzel in American print was around 1824. Homemade pretzels were sold by street vendors and in the 1861 the first commercial company was launched by Julius Sturgis in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

In 1933, the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company invented the first machine that could bend pretzels. Before 1933, pretzels were hand twisted or partially twisted using a cracker cutting machine.
History of Pretzel


10 Totally Twisted Pretzel Facts

The world can thank a frustrated teacher with leftover bread dough for the invention of the soft pretzel. In 610 C.E., while baking bread, an Italian monk decided to create a treat to motivate his distracted catechism students. He rolled out ropes of dough, twisted them to resemble hands crossed on the chest in prayer, and baked them. The monk christened his snacks "pretiola," Latin for "little reward." Parents who tasted their children's classroom treats referred to them as "brachiola," or "little arms."

From there the baked treats spread to Germany, where they were made with flour, malt, salt, baker's yeast, water and fat making them soft and chewy. Many of these Germans immigrated to Pennsylvania's Susquehanna Valley, where they became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, bringing their pretzels with them.

While the origins of the pretzel may be debated, our love for them certainly is not. These crunchy snack treats are beloved the world over. Here are 10 twisted facts about your favorite pretzels.

1. Pennsylvania Rules

Speaking of Pennsylvania, there are about 45 pretzel companies in the state, including Snyders of Hanover. That means about 80 percent of the pretzels sold in the U.S. are made in Pennsylvania.

2. High in Carbs

Traditionally made from wheat flour, the average soft pretzel contains anywhere from 300 to 500 calories. They're high in carbs, low in protein but contain some B vitamins.

3. Mega Pretzel

The current Guinness World Record holder for largest pretzel is Pilsener, Industrias La Constancia (Pilsner of El Salvador). In October 2015, employees baked a massive pretzel that measured 29 feet 3 inches (8.93 meters) long by 13 feet 3 inches (4 meters) wide. It weighed a whopping 1,728 pounds (783.81 kilograms).

4. Tying the Knot

Pretzels were incorporated into Swiss wedding ceremonies during the 16th century. A bride and groom would break a pretzel together, make a wish, and each eat half to symbolize their union.

5. Going Fully Automated

Pretzels were made entirely by hand until 1935 when the first automated pretzel machine was created. That allowed factory bakers to mass-produce about 250 pretzels per minute.

6. Soaking Gives That Shine

Pretzels get their flavor and trademark shine from soaking the dough for about 30 to 60 seconds in sodium hydroxide (lye) before they're baked. It's a technique that's similar to how bagels are prepared.

7. Who Eats the Most?

So, who eats the most pretzels in the U.S.? That honor goes to Philadelphia. While Americans on average eat around 2 pounds (0.9 kilograms) of pretzels annually, Philadelphians eat about 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) per year!

8. The Perfect Pairing

Beer and pretzels could be the perfect snack pairing. Some say it's because the salty pretzels make you want to drink more beer, but the salt also may help boost the flavor and hop bitterness of some beers, and provide a flavor contrast for less hoppy styles.

9. A Crunchy Accident

One theory explaining the evolution of pretzels from hard to soft involves a 17th-century baker's apprentice in Pennsylvania who accidentally fell asleep while baking his pretzels. The soft pretzels ended up over-baked and crunchy. The master baker spared his apprentice's job because after just one bite, he loved them.


Twisted history: How pretzels got their start!

Who can resist a pretzel? They’re crunchy, salty and a pretty low calorie snack. But just how much do you know about these twisty treats?

Pretzels have been eaten & made for centuries. So there are a few thoughts about how they actually got their first start. Most people believe that they were created by monks in Europe, as a reward for children who said their prayers. The pretzel is thought to have existed back in 610 A.D.. If you hold out a traditional twisted pretzel and look at it, the “twist” might remind you of arms crossing a chest, which is how children would cross their arms to receive a blessing on the top of their head from the monk or a priest in a church.

Another legend points to the pretzel being created in a monastery in southern France. The pretzel there is thought to remind people of a Greek style ring bread which was inspired by a bread used for communion in monasteries about a thousand years ago, when this legend points to the pretzel being created.

They are made from 3 simple ingredients: flour, yeast and salt. That’s it! Making pretzels is a fun family activity and there are many recipes out there to try.

Pretzels have been very popular in Germany and now in the U.S.A., as people from Germany came to the country. People settled in a part of the U.S.A. in Pennsylvania that became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.

The first pretzels were hard and crunchy, with a “rock” style salt on them. But in the 20th century in the U.S.A., soft pretzels that were big and chewy (like a bagel or a roll) soon became a favorite in some of the bigger cities like New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia.

Today pretzels have become much more inventive. You can find hard, crunchy pretzel “chunks” that are filled with cheddar cheese (often a little spicy). Another popular pretzel trend in the past few years are chocolate covered pretzels. These most often are mini pretzels covered in dark chocolate or pretzel rods that have been dipped in chocolate.

A pretzel is an ideal snack – especially because it satisfies 2 of the most strong snack cravings: crunchy and salty. But it is also a huge favorite because it is not only low calorie but also low fat as well. Choosing pretzels is a great way to satisfy your snacking craving while keeping on track with your diet. With indulgent types of pretzels (chocolate dipped pretzels and others), there are ways to try something that adds a few extra calories without going totally out of control.

Experts may question how pretzels exactly got their start but we’re all glad this crunchy, salty snack is here to satisfy us. Enjoy a pretzel today!


The Pretzel: A Twisted History - HISTORY

It all began in the early Fifth Century, when a German monk formed dough into a shape representing folded arms in prayer. Calling them "Pretiolas", or "little rewards", the monks gave them to children who were good students.

Today, The Pretzel Twister - home of Freshness with a Twist - continues the tradition of serving hot, fresh pretzels throughout the country. Made with only the finest ingredients, hand-rolled and baked fresh, each and every one of our pretzels is a hot, delicious, fresh-from-the-oven treat. So go on, reward yourself.

Pretzel History

Year began: 1992 Franchising since: 1993

Keith Johnson saw how much his family enjoyed eating soft pretzels at a local farmers’ market and thought pretzels would be a great concept to franchise in malls. He worked at creating his own recipe for pretzels and, once the recipe was perfected, in 1992 opened the first The Pretzel Twiste r store in Naples, Florida.

The company began franchising in 1993, with the first franchise opened by the mother of a Naples employee.

Pretzel Twister History

Mouthwatering Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels

The Pretzel Twister gourmet pretzel is a hand-rolled and twisted soft pretzel made with the finest ingredients using our exclusive Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. Flavors range from salted and cinnamon sugar to garlic and parmesan and tempting dips include hot cheeses and sweet icing.

Fresh Hand-Squeezed Lemonade

Our hand-squeezed lemonade is cool and refreshing. We use freshly squeezed lemon juice extracted from real lemons allowing for a delicious drink.

The menu is simple. Pretzels, with different flavors and toppings, give the customer a variety of choices, but don't require the store owner to learn many different products. Pretzel making is easy, and no previous food experience is necessary. Take a look at our product selection .

The layouts of Pretzel Twister stores are designed for efficiency and beauty and are versatile for almost any location.

Automated Conveyorized Ovens

Our pretzels are specially hearth baked directly on the surface of the oven just like the original pretzel bakers. The conveyorized oven assures perfectly baked pretzels every time guaranteeing consistent quality, reduced food waste, and eliminating the need for extra money for extra employees to tend the oven.

The Pretzel Twister Brand

Pretzel Twister hand-twisted soft pretzels are open in shopping malls all over the United States. Once you have tasted a soft gourmet pretzel in one of our many varieties, you will understand why they are so popular. Our concept is growing quickly - with stores opening each year - for many different reasons.

Freshness, Taste and Aroma

The pretzels are made from scratch, hand-rolled then twisted and baked right in front of the customer. The taste is unlike anything you have ever tasted before. The aroma permeates the store. Few can resist the attraction.


Prairie Fare: Pretzel’s History Is a Bit Twisted

During the first week of school, my 12-year-old daughter brought home an assignment to do with our family. She was to determine something about her ancestors and their culture.

My lineage is pretty straightforward. Most of my great-grandparents hopped off a ship from Norway in the mid- to late 1800s. Some others were from Sweden and Germany. Most of my husband’s family arrived in America earlier and he added English, German, Scottish, Irish and Polish to the genetic pool.

I was learning something during this assignment, too.

Part two of the assignment was to figure out an item, such as a food, to share with the class about their culture. My daughter wanted some suggestions.

True to my heritage and field of study, I immediately thought of lefse (a potato-based bread). Then I figured there would be quite a few people in her class bringing lefse because people of Norwegian descent are numerous in the area.

I suggested homemade pretzels, since I associate pretzels with German celebrations. However, I decided I’d better confirm the origin of pretzels.

I was partially right to associate pretzels with Germany, but they weren’t “invented” there. According to the Kitchen Project, a food history website, pretzels were developed by monks in southern France or northern Italy. They were given to children who remembered their prayers and were called “pretiola,” which is Latin for “little reward.”

In Italy, the pretzel became known as “brachiola,” which is Italian for “little arms.” Eventually the pretzel made its way through Austria and to Germany, where it was known as the “bretzel.” Later, German immigrants brought the pretzel recipe to America.

Since pretzels finally made it to Germany and represent part of both of her parents’ heritage, we were set with my daughter’s assignment. Sharing foods associated with our heritage draws people together and allows them a chance to stay connected with their culture.

Here’s a quiz about bread from around the world. Can you name the place (country, continent or region) typically associated with these breads? The answers follow.

  1. Steamed buns
  2. Chapati
  3. Bagel
  4. Baguette
  5. Soda bread
  6. Pizza crust
  7. Tortillas
  8. Pita
  9. Corn bread
  10. Scones

The answers are 1. China 2. India 3. Eastern Europe 4. France 5. Ireland 6. Italy 7. Mexico 8. Middle East 9. North and South America (American Indian) 10. Scotland.

Taste another culture by exploring the different types of breads. Here is an easy pretzel recipe courtesy of Washington State University Extension that can be prepared in a zip-close plastic bag or in a bowl. When doing bread-related activities with children, using a plastic bag decreases the potential for a kitchen mess.

The recipe contains both all-purpose and whole-wheat flour. The whole-wheat flour, which is a whole-grain ingredient, increases the fiber content and adds more nutrients. Canola oil provides heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. You can top the pretzels with cheese or a sprinkle of coarse salt. You also can sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar. As another option, try dipping them in slightly warmed pizza sauce.

1 Tbsp. quick-rising yeast (1 package)

3/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. warm water

1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese, optional

Combine flour, yeast, sugar and 3/4 tsp. salt in a large zip-close bag. Close the bag and shake. Add canola oil and warm water to the dry ingredients in the bag. Close and mix well. Roll dough on floured surface and knead. Add flour if sticky. Divide the dough into six pieces. Roll each piece between hands to form a ropelike shape that is 12 inches long. Form into a pretzel and place on a greased baking sheet. Let rest for 10 minutes. Brush lightly with water or beaten egg. Sprinkle with salt or grated cheese if desired. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Makes six soft pretzels. Without the optional ingredients, each pretzel has 200 calories, 4.5 grams (g) of fat, 32 g of carbohydrate, 3 g of fiber and 630 milligrams of sodium.


Breaking bread: the history of the pretzel

The pretzel has a history as twisted as the snack itself. Baked in knotted, figure-of-eight designs, it’s an ever-evolving foodstuff. Continuing our series on global bread culture, we’ve looked into this beloved bake and its history, and have gone in search of the very best pretzels out there.

A brief history

Pretzels were considered to be bearers of luck and prosperity

The origins of the pretzel have been heavily disputed, and its evolution no less tumultuous. Certain (unverified) sources claim the pretzel first appeared back in 610 AD, when a monk in Italy baked strips of dough and folded them into a criss-cross shape as a reward for those of his students who had learned their prayers. These were called ‘pretiola’, Latin for ‘little rewards’. Conflicting accounts connect the Latin term ‘bracellae’ (‘little arms’) to the German ‘brezel’ – the national nickname for this tasty snack – claiming that pretzels were the invention of a group of desperate German bakers that were held hostage by a group of prominent public figures. Yet further accounts suggest the pretzel’s first bake took place in a monastery in France. The only thing historians can agree on is the pretzel’s Christian connotations. Throughout the Middle Ages, pretzels began to infiltrate Europe, even making an appearance in the 12th-century encyclopedic text Hortus Deliciarum, where they were depicted as a mainstay of any feast. Thought of as bearers of prosperity and luck, these knotted breads were often given to the poor as a way of providing them with spiritual as well as actual nourishment.

European bakeries still use the coat of arms to this day

But the historic tale of the pretzel gets even more heroic. During the 16th century, the Ottomans attempted an invasion of Vienna, burrowing a tunnel under the city wall at night. Little did they know though that a few of the city’s residents would still be awake. Monks baking pretzels in the monastery were working through the night and were said to have heard the digging. They rapidly alerted the city to this, whose defences responded and thwarted the Ottoman attempts at invasion. The bakers were later rewarded with their own coat of arms, made of up of a number of angry-looking lions holding a pretzel that can still be seen hanging above the doorways of European bakeries today.

The bake

Making a pretzel is crafty work – expect to fold, twist and knot the dough

For the pretzel dough, flour, yeast and water are mixed and combined, before salt, milk, malt extract and melted butter are added and everything is kneaded into a fine dough. Then comes the crafty bit the dough is shaped by a series of folds, twists and eventually knots, before being left for a short period of time until they’re dipped in an alkaline solution (known as lye). This solution gives them their signature burnished crust. Finally dusted with rock salt and baked, these salty snacks are best enjoyed warm and toasted. You’ll find a variety of different styles depending on where you go, especially in Germany where toppings include caraway seeds, almonds and lashings of icing, while simple salted numbers are often served with traditional weisswurst and sweet mustard.

Where to find them: Brezel Bar, Berlin

Try a pretzel topped with pumpkin seeds for extra crunch

Pretzels (or brezels in Germany) are everyday snacks, best eaten warm from overflowing bakery counters or stalls on street corners. That said, Brezel Bar in Kreuzberg is a local institution, and is exceptionally good at pretzels – if the name wasn’t enough of a clue. Located just off trendy Bergmannstrasse, it’s here where freshly baked pretzels, generously studded with rock salt sprinkles, complement meat and cheese spreads for a breakfast to keep you going throughout the day. Stay nearby at Hotel Johann.

Bäckerei Erbel, Dachsbach

This bakery is consdered to be one of the best in the country for pretzels

Lavishly praised and adored by both locals and international gastronomes, Bäckerei Erbel is a haven for bread lovers. The bakery dates back to 1680, and is run by a man who has inherited his baking techniques from a long line of ancestors. Here, ‘breze’ (the Bavarian term for brezels) are lovingly hand rolled and twisted into elaborate curves before being baked. The end result is nothing short of special coffee-coloured crusts, dusted with salt, snap enthusiastically when broken in half, giving way to a soft, springy centre. The taste and method is true food artistry, so be sure to pick up a selection to go (though eat them quickly as pretzels only last a few hours) as you wander through the bakery’s cobblestone courtyard. Head to Maison De Vacances for the night.

Spyer Brezelfest, Speyer

Brezelfest is the Upper Rhine region's largest beer festival

For pretzel-lovers, the Brezelfest is a mandatory stop. A folk festival conjured up as an attempt by the town of Speyer to attract new visitors, its popularity has meant it has become something of a tradition in the area – over one hundred years later. Partly a celebration of the Speyer pretzel, it’s the largest beer festival in the Upper Rhine region, with a ‘Pretzel Parade’ that flows through the streets of Speyer. Attendees will also be able to watch annual attempts to break the world record for the largest group of people organised into the shape of a pretzel (a record that was set by the people of Speyer in the first place). But the pretzels themselves are still the focus of attention – grab one of these and munch your way through the festivities, until it’s time to retreat to the half-timbered, Gasthaus zum Halbmond.

One reason to try them

There's a lot to love about these twisty breads – and they're a symbol of love too

While there’s no such thing as a genuine love potion, pretzels have long been thought of as symbols of luck and spiritual nourishment, even coming to symbolise undying love through their interlocking loops. Folk legend suggests that in Switzerland, noble couples broke pretzels in wedding ceremonies to seal the bond of matrimony – allegedly where the term ‘tying the knot’ was coined.


Pretzel – Trinity symbol

Pretzels have been around for almost 1,400 years. History has their origin about A.D. 610 when a baker in a monastery in southern France or northern Italy twisted leftover strips of bread dough into the shape of a person’s arms crossed in prayer, traditional posture for prayer in those days.

Monks began offering the warm, doughy treats to children who had memorized their Bible verses and prayers. They were used to help children understand the Christian Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The three empty holes in the pretzel represented the Christian Trinity. The monks called these treats pretiolas, Latin for little rewards.

The little knotted treat wandered around a while and became known in old high German as Brachiatellium, and then just plain Bretzel or Pretzel. Left: one of the oldest depictions of pretzels in the Hortus Deliciarum of 1190 showing Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus sharing a meal. The king is pointing at the ale cans and dart board not shown in the detail.

Medieval people would ride out and greet vendors traveling to the various fairs and offer them pewter pitchers of wine and crisp dough impaled on spears called Geleit-pretzels. In the detail of the painting by Peter Bruegel titled “The Fight between Carnival and Lent”, 1559, the lusted-after pretzels are visible at the feet of the guy sitting on the dunk tank chair.

Kepler stated that if we assume that the Earth is the center of the universe, we must accept that the planets travel in a loopy path “with the appearance of Lenten bread.” In all Catholic countries, the bread culture became highly developed because of meatless holidays, and since pretzels didn’t have any ingredients that were taboo during the pre-Easter season such as eggs, milk, butter or lard, the pretzel became a popular Lenten food throughout the Middle Ages. Plus, the white Brezl was popular for its keeping qualities. It was thick, satisfying and transported easily. The East Prussian Salzburger settlers kept the originally Catholic Brezl, but added yeast and raisins and let it rise on a metal tin, eating it on the day before the highest holiday of the Evangelist church, Karfreitag.

The success of the pretiola spread to monasteries throughout the French and Italian wine regions and crossed over the Alps to Austria and Germany, where it became known as the bretzel, or pretzel.

Pretzels were a convenient way to give food to the poor and became typical alms for the hungry. Those who gave pretzels away were considered particularly blessed. They became such a sacred symbol that they were often packed into coffins.
A special recognition was given to the pretzel bakers in Austria. In 1510, the Ottoman Turks invaded Vienna by tunneling under the city walls. Pretzel bakers, working through the night, heard the strange noises in the cellars, grabbed every available weapon and killed the Turks. The city was saved and the grateful emperor awarded the pretzel bakers an honorary coat of arms. It shows a lion holding a shield with a pretzel in the middle.

The term “tying the knot” has special significance concerning the pretzel. It seems pretzels were introduced into the wedding ceremony. The couple wished upon and broke a pretzel like a wishbone, then ate it to signify their oneness. A 17th century woodcut copied from a stained glass window in a cathedral in Berne, Switzerland, shows the pretzel being used as the “marriage knot” between two royal families.

The Easter egg hunt may very well be a descendant of the tradition the Germans had at Easter. Pretzels were hidden around the farms for the children to find. They were then served with two hard-boiled eggs on Good Friday. The pretzel symbolized everlasting life and the two eggs nestled in each large hole represented Easter’s rebirth.

At the beginning of the new year, German children tied pretzels on strings around their necks for prosperity, health and good fortune.

partial text from:
Savor the unexpected twists and turns of the pretzel’s past
Oakland Tribune, Nov 5, 2003 by Judy Stanley – EVERETT HERALD


The Pretzel: A Twisted History - HISTORY

New Snyder’s of Hanover Twisted Pretzel Sticks are here, and they’re a testament to the Campbell Snacks team’s agility, strong pretzel heritage, and love of food.

Under the lead of our Innovation team, a group of sensory and flavor scientists, product developers, and expert bakers got to work creating a twisted pretzel stick with out of this world big flavor.

The result? A collection of Twisted Pretzel Sticks in flavors like Seasoned, Sour Cream and Onion, and Jalapeño Ranch. They’re the perfect combo of rich, buttery pretzels with an explosion of bold flavors baked in like you’ve never tasted before. And, yes, you can find them in stores now.

Pivoting during the pandemic

The work began in March 2020, but the Innovation team was sent home soon after, with the pandemic impacting our typical methods of work.

So we took the project virtual.

“We met virtually as a task force every single day to discuss the product and map out plans for each possible outcome,” said Dina Reagan, Senior Director of Salty Snacks. “We put our heads together to quickly pivot and push forward, operating through phone and video calls, and tele-tasting from home.”

The agility of the team

Getting creative and scrappy isn’t anything new to the team in our Franklin, Wisconsin bakery, but their work bringing Twisted Pretzel Sticks to life presented an entirely new challenge. The pretzels were first created by our Research & Development (R&D) team in our Hanover, PA location—the hometown of Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels and the Snack Food Capital of the World—so the Franklin team had to partner closely with the R&D team to get the pretzels ready for production, amidst a pandemic.

“We wanted to make sure we delivered a delicious pretzel exactly how the R&D team had intended. Working on a new product within COVID-19 protocols had its challenges, but we were able to pull it off quickly without sacrificing employee safety or quality of the product.”

– Jerry Kreider, Plant Manager, Franklin, Wisconsin

Hundreds of versions of the seasonings were evaluated, and, for months, the entire team working on Twisted Pretzel Sticks received daily shipments of the pretzels to taste test. You could call it a job perk, but we’re all passionate about making really good food!

A strong pretzel heritage

Amanda Thomason and Brad Viands, R&D leads from Hanover, made a 780-mile trek to Franklin by car. After following COVID-19 protocols, including quarantines and testing, they worked on-site to provide extra support for this critical project.

“The town of Hanover is built around pretzels and known as ‘The Snack Food Capital of the World,’” said Brad. “Most of our team is local to the area, so together our pretzel heritage is very strong.”

“Our team took such an entrepreneurial approach as we tinkered with the new pretzels to get them just right” said Dina. “This, combined with a love of the perfect pretzel, created a product we’re really proud of.”

With an openness to be creative, endless scenario planning, and strong communication, the team successfully completed the trials and the new pretzels were ready to launch.

“I’m a bit of a pretzel geek—I have pretzel t-shirts and even a pretzel Christmas tree ornament. I couldn’t wait to take a selfie with the new Twisted Pretzel Sticks that I helped make now that they’re on shelves!”

– Amanda Thomason, R&D Manager, Campbell Snacks
Amanda Thomason with the pretzels she helped develop


Watch the video: Twisted History of Well-Loved Fairy Tales (January 2022).