Consider the humble pretzel. It’s a unique snack that’s associated with many different all-American pastimes, like attending a baseball game, going to the movies, or strolling around a county fair.
Your office can enjoy pretzels any time, but how about Monday, April 26th? That’s National Pretzel Day, established by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in 2003 to honor the importance of the pretzel in the state’s history. But, the modest pretzel actually has a long and venerable history that includes European roots, religious beginnings, true love, and wartime heroism.
According to historians, the pretzel was invented way back in the Middle Ages, most likely by monks. The exact location of the monks is up for debate, some say Italy, others say France. In either case, the pretzels were often given as a reward to children when they recited their prayers correctly. Being made of a simple mixture of flour, salt, and water, pretzels were also the perfect thing for Lent, when meat, dairy, and eggs are off the menu.
Through the centuries, the meaning of the pretzel evolved. From being a symbol of good luck and spiritual fulfillment in the Middle Ages to a symbol of undying love (hence the saying “tying the knot”) in the 17th century, the pretzel carried a lot of weight for a humble snack food. It even played a notable role in the 1510 Austrian defeat of the Ottoman Turks. The Turks tried to invade Vienna by tunneling under the city walls, but their plan was ruined by monks who were baking pretzels in the monastery basement, heard the approaching army, and alerted the city in time to save the day. Way to go, pretzel bakers!
It wasn’t until the 19th century that the pretzel made it to North America. Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants (who actually came from German-speaking areas of Europe) brought the pretzel with them. Julius Sturgis established the country’s first commercial pretzel bakery in 1861, and the pretzel was off to the races.
Today, pretzels may not be making love matches or stopping invasions, but that hasn’t diminished their popularity at all. Pennsylvania is still the pretzel capital of the country, producing 80% of the nation’s pretzels. But people everywhere seem to love a good pretzel. In fact, the average American consumes approximately a pound-and-a-half of pretzels each year.
And pretzels come in so many varieties now. You can go with sweet (caramel, sugared, vanilla glaze) or savory (cheese, honey mustard, marinara). You can have them for breakfast or lunch or a special afternoon snack break. And if you really want to get crazy, you can try some modern interpretations like mozzarella pretzel bites and “pretzel dogs” (hot dogs wrapped in pretzel dough—yes, please!).
So, go ahead—bring a little fun to the office with pretzels delivered hot and fresh, right to your door. Here are some of our favorite pretzel partners:
Auntie Anne’s (799 locations nationwide)
It all started back in 1988 at a farmer’s market in Downingtown, PA. Anne Beiler and her husband sold a variety of snacks, including hand-rolled, soft pretzels. Today, Auntie Anne’s rolls more than 500,000 pretzels every two days, which is enough to feed a pretzel to every person living in Lancaster County, PA (home to Auntie Anne’s, Inc.).
Philly Pretzel Factory (103 locations across 12 states)
Founder Dan got his start at age 11, selling pretzels out on the streets of Philadelphia and organizing neighborhood kids to work for him in multiple areas of the city. Now we bring our Philly Pretzel brand to 12 states.
The Pretzel Shop (Pittsburgh, PA)
Our pretzels are hand-twisted and baked in an original brick oven built in 1872! We made our name as a Pittsburgh institution almost a century ago, when our pretzels were sold primarily by street vendors. 88 years later, you can still enjoy that same signature flavor.
Ben’s Soft Pretzels (15 locations across Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan)
Ben’s Soft Pretzels are made from an Amish-inspired recipe and baked fresh every day. We believe in using the finest ingredients available which is why we import special pretzel salt from Germany!
Pretzelmaker (46 locations across 20 states)
Since 1991, we’ve been rolling out fresh-baked and handcrafted pretzels – with a twist! The Pretzel Dog? Pretzel Bites? Both are Pretzelmaker claims to innovative fame!