National Pretzel Month
Happy National Pretzel Month! With deep roots in Western European populations and German Americans, the pretzel has become both a symbol of cultural heritage and a tasty snack for millions. Pretzels also happen to be a favorite snack food of Tegner-Miller Insurance Brokers’ principal Dave Nelson. Below are some interesting facts we have compiled about the history of this snack food stalwart.
Religious Roots: While the exact date of the invention of the pretzel is contentious, most historians agree that the pretzel was created according to religious tradition. While some pretzel buffs contend that the snack was produced by monks as a reward for their devout flocks, others argue that the pretzel was created as a substitute for the pagan bread shapes, such as the sun cross. In either case, the pretzel became an important symbol of Christianity and a traditional Easter food during the Middle Ages. Because pretzels can be produced according to simple recipes using only flour and water, they became important snacks during Lent, when other baking ingredients are forbidden.
American Innovation: While the soft pretzel was invented in Europe over a thousand years ago, the hard pretzel is a much more recent and local invention. The hard pretzel that has become a mainstay snack food in the US was first produced by Sturgis Bakery in Pennsylvania in 1850. The bakery would soon become America’s first commercial pretzel bakery. It continues to produce pretzels with that 150 year old recipe to this day.
Regional Popularity: Pretzels are popular across the US, but particularly so in Pennsylvania. The so-called “Pennsylvania Dutch” (actually German immigrants) brought pretzel traditions to the US in the early 1800s. Since then, pretzels have remained one of the most popular snack foods across Pennsylvania. In fact, Philadelphians consume twelve times as many pretzels as the average American!
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