Pretzel


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

Pretzel

Nowadays people don't think of the common, everyday pretzel as an Easter season food. Nevertheless, for centuries the pretzel qualified as an acceptable food during the forty-day fast that precedes Easter (see also Lent). The pretzel dates back to ancient times. The earliest known image of a pretzel comes from a fifth-century manuscript housed in the Vatican.

Observant Christians in the Roman Empire considered pretzels a suitable Lenten food for two reasons. First, because pretzel dough contains only flour, salt, and water, these bread snacks fulfilled the strict requirements of the Lenten fast. Second, by virtue of their shape, they symbolized the proper activity of an observant Christian during Lent: prayer. In those days many Christians prayed by crossing their arms in front of them and placing the fingertips of each hand on the shoulders of the opposing arms. The bow-shaped pretzel, still common today, represents the crossed arms of a person in prayer. The Romans called these treats bracellae, meaning "little arms" in Latin. Later, the Germans transformed this word into brezel or prezel. English speakers in turn translated the German word as "pretzel." By the Middle Ages pretzels had become a popular Lenten food in many parts of Europe.

In past times Ash Wednesday witnessed the arrival of the pretzel vendor on the streets of Germany, Austria, and Poland. As an act of Lenten charity pretzels were sometimes distributed free to poorer folk. Central Europeans often washed down their pretzels with beer. The Poles enjoyed these crunchy snacks with a dish of beer soup. In Austria children sometimes dangled them from the ends of palm branches on Palm Sunday. Pretzels continued to be widely identified with Lent until the nineteenth century. As western Europeans began to discard the food restrictions once associated with Lent, pretzels lost their association with the season and gradually became a year-round snack food.

Further Reading

Hogan, Julie. Treasury of Easter Celebrations. Nashville, TN: Ideals Publications, 1999. Weiser, Francis X. The Easter Book. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1954.
References in periodicals archive ?
Hometown Pretzel Shop Celebrates with Great Philadelphia Pretzel Giveaway--
These perfectly boring Pretzel Air Crisps - and Rold Gold's perfectly delicious flavored pretzels - are proof positive.
Richards describes the new Fully Loaded Kettle(TM) brand Bakes Pretzel Chips as akin to the classic "everything" bagel.
4--5--Color) Above, Mennonite women make pretzels at Martin's Pretzel Bakery in Akron.
With the addition of these stores, we are clearly the second-largest pretzel operator in the country.
Co-founder Rick Wetzel said: "We're excited to expand our involvement with the Walt Disney Company which began when I was a Cast Member on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland(R) Park in 1987 and continued with the opening of our Wetzel's Pretzels store at the Disneyland(R) Resort in 2001.
In addition to a full line of Wetzel's Pretzels products, these stores will feature Hot Dog on a Stick and Muscle Beach Lemonade branded products.
Wetzel's Pretzels LLC is a privately held company operating over 200 company, franchise and licensed units throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
SnackWorks executives attribute the success of the pretzel program to high customer satisfaction and an innovative marketing campaign.
The Pretzel Collaboration Engine provides a reusable platform for linking a wide range of application life cycle technologies.
high-quality product as a replacement for the current Superpretzel and Pretzel Gourmet products manufactured by New Jersey-based J&J SnackFoods (Nasdaq:JJSF).
com/565465/leahingram/national-pretzel-day-2017/) "Superpretzel," the popular frozen pretzel brand, surveyed a cross-section of Americans and found some interesting pretzel eating habits: