Who doesn’t love a delicious, hot soft pretzel, with a dab of mustard? Pretzels are big business in the U.S, worth around $550 million a year. Pretzels can be soft or hard, and come in all shapes and sizes. The twisted delicacy has a long history. There’s evidence of the first pretzel, street vendor in 1483. The pretzel, even, gave birth to the Easter Egg Hunt. German children would look for hidden pretzels, and eventually the egg took over. Pretzels were linked to Lent and Easter. They’re made out of flour, salt and water–the perfect Lenten meal. Some people believe the term “tying the knot” came from the pretzel. In 17th century Switzerland, Royal couples wished for happiness with a pretzel, much like we do today with a wishbone. The Pennsylvania Dutch brought pretzels to America in 1710. For years, people claimed Pennsylvania had the Best Soft Pretzels.
The first pretzel was supposedly baked in America in Lititz, Pennsylvania, seventy-five miles west of Philadelphia. A lot of trading was done between merchants in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Pretty soon, cart vendors were circulating in Philadelphia, and soft pretzels became a big hit. Believe it or not, Pennsylvania still produces 80% of the country’s pretzels. You can probably find the Best Soft Pretzels in the Pretzel Museum in Philadelphia. The Sturgis Bakery in Lititz, Pennsylvania baked the first hard pretzel, in America, around 1850. Other areas of the country were introduced to soft pretzels when mass production came along. Chicago and New York became famous for their soft pretzels. You can find pretzels today shaped as sticks, loops, braids and letters. And, pretzels come in a variety of flavors, including buffalo wing flavored pretzels. Manufacturers are also selling pretzels with a variety of coatings including yogurt and chocolate. The amazing thing is that pretzels have not lost their popularity. Today, you’ll find soft pretzels sold everywhere, even in movie theaters. Grocery stores sell a frozen version of the soft pretzel–just heat it up. Although, it took the pretzel a while to get to America, it’s sure to stay a favorite snack food for years to come.