Pretzels are recognized as one of America’s favorite snacks. Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants were the first to introduce these tasty snacks to the United States in the nineteenth century. Many of the handmade pretzel factories originated in Central Pennsylvania and then quickly spread throughout the United States. The hard pretzel originated in 1850.
The average Pennsylvanian consumes about twelve times more pretzels than the national average.
Pennsylvania is the center for pretzel production for both hard and soft varieties. It produces 80% of the nation’s pretzels.
The industry alone is worth $550 million and the average American consumes 1.5 pounds a year.
Most people agree that the pretzel originated with Christianity and that they were developed by Monks. One story is that n 610 AD an Italian monk invented the pretzel as a reward for children who learned their prayers. He made the shape of the pretzel to resemble a child praying with their hands put together. He called them “pretiola” which means “little rewards”.
Another source puts the invention at a monastery in southern France. It is also said that the pretzel may be related to a Greek rag bread from the communion bread made and used in the monasteries.
Whichever story is true pretzels are a true American snack, and if you like them hard or soft. With mustard or cheese. You can find them in your local grocery store aisle or any of the many wonderful pretzel stands that are in malls around America.