Happy National Pretzel Day! Did you by chance make your own pretzels, or perhaps buy some? I made a batch today thanks to a recipe sent over by a friend, who also alerted me today was National Pretzel Day and giving my the topic for my Daily Doodle!
Pretzels are thought to have been created by monks in the seventh century. The most widespread story being that the first pretzels were invented by a monk in 610 A.D. During Lent in northern Italy, the monk is said to have been baking unleavened bread, when he thought of a way to reward children for memorizing prayers. He twisted the dough, so it resembled arms crossed in prayer and named his creation “pretiola,” meaning “little reward” in Latin. Other sources say that something similar occurred, but in a monastery in southern France.
Pretzels made their way around the world and the symbol even came to mean undying love. Pretzel legend says 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 custom may have been the origin of the phrase “tying the knot.” (oh how exciting learning more than one thing today!)
Germany is the country 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. It is said pretzels came to America with the people on the Mayflower, but they were definitely being made by German's in America in the early 1700's.
In 1861, Julius Sturgis founded the first commercial pretzel bakery in the town of Lititz in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Sturgis also claims credit for developing the first hard pretzels... or at least being the first to intentionally bake hard pretzels (rather than accidentally leave the soft ones in the oven too long). The crispy pretzels lasted longer in an airtight container, allowing them to be sold further away from the bakery and to stay on shelves longer. Eventually, hard pretzels would come to be arguably even more popular than their soft counterparts.
So I guess the better question for today is do you prefer hard pretzels or soft pretzels?