OK. It’s here. #NationalPretzelDay. In honor of the event I stopped at Wawa to bring soft pretzels to the dedicated hard working crew at Chasing News. Don’t worry, NJ 101.5, yours are coming too. Believe or not I don’t have a political opinion on pretzels, nor do I want to rant for or against carbs and processed wheat products. Although I did read ‘Wheat Belly’ and didn’t eat wheat for a couple months. I felt great and more fit that I’d felt in years. But I had to stop…cuz, pretzels.
National Pretzel Day is steeped in tradition and…no not really, it’s just a declaration made by former Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania to acknowledge the contribution the pretzel has made to the local economy. Although the pretzel is a big part of the economy with 80% of American pretzel production coming from PA. There even used to be a pretzel museum http://www.ushistory.org/tour/pretzel-museum.htm .
The Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants introduced pretzels to North America in the 19th century. At this time, many handmade pretzel bakeries populated central Pennsylvania and their popularity quickly spread.
It was in the 20th century that soft pretzels were very popular in areas such as Philadelphia, Chicago and New York.
- Today, the average Philadelphian consumes about twelve times as many pretzels as the national average.
- Pennsylvania is the center of American pretzel production for both hard and soft pretzels, producing 80% of the nation’s pretzels.
- The annual United States pretzel industry is worth over $550 million.
- The average American consumes about 1.5 pounds of pretzels per year.
- Philadelphia opened a privately run “Pretzel Museum” in 1993.
- Hard pretzels originated in the United States in 1850.
As far as the origins of the actual pretzel, legend has it that is was invented by Italian monks almost 1,500 years ago. The crossed pattern of the dough supposedly represents crossed arms during prayer and the three holes an acknowledgment of the Holy Trinity.
Though the exact origins of the pretzel remain mysterious, legend has it that the story began around A.D. 610, when Italian monks presented their young students with treats of baked dough twisted in the shape of crossed arms. At the time, crossing one’s arms was the traditional posture for prayer. As the custom spread through medieval Europe, the pretzel’s three holes came to represent the Holy Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and the twisty baked good became associated with good luck, long life and prosperity.
The Catholic Church played a leading role in the early history of the pretzel. In the seventh century, the church dictated stricter rules governing fasting and abstinence during Lent than it does today. Pretzels, made of a simple mixture of water, flour and salt, were an ideal food to consume during Lent, when all types of meat, dairy and eggs were prohibited.
So there you have it, the pretzel itself is steeped in religious tradition…hmm, wondering if that offends anyone in today’s politically correct world. Either way, it’s a big day in the Spadea house! I had a pretzel for breakfast and tonight will repurpose a soft pretzel as the roll for a cheesesteak…can’t wait Pictures and video of the #cheesesteakpretzel comin’ tomorrow!