HomeNewsWhy Pretzels Became So Popular In The Middle Ages

Why Pretzels Became So Popular In The Middle Ages

The exact origin of the pretzel is still debated, with various sources claiming that the instantly recognizable snack was first created in Germany, Italy, or Southern France. Nevertheless, most agree that the pretzel first emerged in its original form sometime in the early 7th century and that it was likely invented by monks who wanted to create a snack for Christian children as a reward for religious devotion.

Pretzels were originally baked as large, soft pastries, without the glaze and salt they came to be topped with. Their relevance to Christians — beyond their pleasing shape, which certainly would have appealed to children — is also related to the simplicity of their recipe. Made simply of flour, water, and salt, they were considered acceptable treats during Lent, a period in which many Christians traditionally abstain from richer foods.

In the U.S. today, pretzels are particularly associated with the state of Pennsylvania, where they first arrived with German settlers in the early 18th century, according to Sharon Hernes Silverman’s “Pennsylvania Snacks: A Guide to Food Factory Tours.” The advent of the hard pretzel snack that is popular in America today came in the mid-19th century thanks to a baker named Julius Sturgis. Notably, he intentionally altered the way pretzels were baked to give them more longevity — they could travel farther and stay on shelves longer — and allow him to serve more customers, according to History.




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