The History of Pretzels

Did you know that the average American consumes 1.5 pounds of pretzels each year? We wouldn't be surprised if that number was higher for our customers! The pretzels at Bierhaus NYC are a must have when visiting our restaurant. You could not get a Bavarian Pretzel more authentic than the ones at our haus because they are imported straight from Germany! If you know anything about New York City pizza, it's said that the pizza is so great due to New York 's fantastic water filtration system, which is used to make the dough. Well, similar to New York pizza, Bavarian pretzels have a unique taste of their own from the water used to make the dough in Bavaria. 

So how did pretzels become such a popular snack enjoyed all around the world? A popular tale on the first known pretzels dates back all the way to A.D. 610. An Italian Monk baked strips of dough and folded them into a shape that resembled a child crossing their arms in a prayer. He used these treats as “pretiolas” or “little rewards” for children who memorized their prayers. However, since there is no documented evidence from the era to confirm this story, no one really knows if this is how the popular treat got its shape. The first recorded appearance of pretzels were in a crest on a bakers’ guild in 1111, and later in 1185 an illustration of pretzels appeared in a manuscript in Germany.

By the 17th century, the interlocking loops of the pretzel became a symbol of love and prosperity. In Germany, children wore pretzel necklaces on New Year’s to promote good luck and prosperity for the next year. In Austria, pretzels were hung on Christmas trees and parents hid little pretzels on Easter as an early version of an Easter egg hunt. In Switzerland, the shape of the pretzel was used as a marriage knot and couples would pull on each side of the pretzel on their wedding day.

Pretzels had a huge impact in Europe, but how did they make their way to America? German immigrants brought pretzels with them when they settled in Pennsylvania and several pretzel bakeries started to pop up all over the state. Pennsylvania continues to be the pretzel-making capital of America, with 80% of American pretzels being made there today. It was Pennsylvania Governor Rendell who declared April 26th as National Pretzel day back in 2003. 

Now that you know where these delicious baked goods all started, stop by and try our famous Bavarian pretzels!