Pretzels 101: A brief history lesson on the best snack ever

Pretzels 101: A brief history lesson on the best snack ever


If you’re like most people, you like a good snack and you love a great snack even more! So, what tops the list? Cookies or pastries if you want something sweet? Chips or crackers if you are feeling a little salty? Have you ever thought about a snack that can be both sweet and salty? One that can stand up to a wide variety of flavors? How about pretzels? Yes… you heard right…pretzels!

A pretzel is that twisted, distinctively-shaped baked pastry, made from dough that is commonly shaped into a knot. Today, pretzels come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

Pretzels are made of a simple mixture of flour, water, and salt. The two most common varieties of pretzels are soft pretzels that need to be eaten immediately and hard pretzels which have a longer shelf life. Salt is the most common seasoning for pretzels, followed by cheeses, sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, sweet glazing, seeds, and nuts. In this article we’ll explore pretzels in more detail, including their history and some fun facts.

History of Pretzels

There are several stories floating around about how pretzels came into being. The most popular is that in 610 A.D., while baking bread, an Italian monk decided to create a special treat to motivate his distracted students. He rolled out ropes of dough. He then twisted them to resemble hands crossed on the chest in prayer and baked them. And voila! The ancient precursor of our current-day pretzel came into being.

The first pretzels were baked as a soft, squishy bread, much like the soft pretzels of today. They were originally called “bracellae.” This is the Latin word for “little arms.” From this, the Germans derived the word “bretzel,” and from that, the word “pretzel” was born.

Because of their origin, pretzels came to have religious significance during the Middle Ages. During this time, monks gave away pretzels to the poor as a religious symbol that provided sustenance. Because of this, a pretzel began to symbolize a sign of fulfilment, good fortune and prosperity.

By the 17th century, pretzels came to symbolize undying love as well! In 1614, royal couples in Switzerland used to break a pretzel in their wedding ceremonies. This could be how the phrase “tying the knot” came into being. German immigrants brought the popular pretzel into the United States in the 1700s and most pretzel bakeries popped up in Pennsylvania during this time. Even today, about 80% of pretzels made in America are made in Pennsylvania – including OMG! Pretzels.

Fast forward to 1861 when Julius Sturgis opened the first commercial pretzel bakery in Lititz, Pennsylvania being the first to develop hard pretzels. Hard pretzels last longer than soft pretzels, giving them a longer shelf life and thereby allowing them to be transported far away from the bakery. Today, both soft and hard pretzels are available and popular.

Fun Facts about Pretzels

The pretzel is associated with many functions and ceremonies around the world. Here are some fun facts about pretzels:

  • National Pretzel Day is on April 26
  • October is National Pretzel Month
  • The pretzel is long considered a good-luck symbol due to its religious roots
  •  On New Year’s Day, German children wear pretzels around their necks to symbolize a new beginning
  •  In 16th century Austria, pretzels were used to decorate Christmas trees
  • In Switzerland, newlyweds traditionally make a wish and break a pretzel, resembling how people in other cultures break a wishbone or a glass
  • Until the 1930s, pretzels were handmade and a typical worker could twist 40 pretzels in a minute
  • In 1935, the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company introduced the first automated pretzel machine, which helped large bakeries make 245 pretzels a minute, or five tons a day
  • More than $550 million worth of pretzels are sold in the United States annually
  • The average American consumes up to two pounds of pretzels in a year. Philadelphians, however, consume up to 12 pounds of pretzels per person per year.

Now that you know more about pretzels, you can decide which flavors of gourmet sourdough pretzel bites you are ready to try! OMG! Pretzels offers eight ridiculously delicious flavors, including Garlic, Sweet & Salty, Chesapeake Spice, Cheddar Jalapeno, Sweet & Spicy, Lemon Pepper, Salty Butterscotch, and Sweet Chili.

Made from the finest-quality ingredients using proprietary recipes, we focus on elevating the snacking experience and providing premium products. You can shop online now or find a retailer near you. Once you pop one in your mouth, OMG! comes popping out!

So, the next time you’re craving a snack, think beyond the ordinary to flavored sourdough pretzel nuggets. When you do, share your little secret with your family and friends – that the best pretzels are from OMG! Pretzels!