There are several tales describing the invention of the looped pretzel, but nobody has been able to determine it’s exact origin. Most historians agree that it was probably invented by monks, and one of the accounts suggests it was designed to represent arms folded in prayer. The pretzel was introduced to America in the 1800s by German and Swiss immigrants who later became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. The pretzel bakeries they opened were just the start of Pennsylvania’s pretzel history — today the state serves as the center of pretzel production in the U.S., manufacturing over 80% of the pretzels in the nations $550 million industry. Pennsylvania is home to the “Pretzel Museum,” as well as the birthplace of National Pretzel Day.
Chris and I love pretzels. He prefers the hard kind, especially with a bit of hummus, but I’m partial to soft pretzels. It wasn’t that long ago that every time I went to our local shopping arena, Spotsylvania Mall, I had to stop at Auntie Anne’s for a Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel. (Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy regular salty pretzels too, but something about shopping and mall-walking always makes me crave sugar.) With all the food holidays we’ve had this year I’ve been trying to avoid extra calories, and part of that strategy has meant saying goodbye to Auntie Anne, along with her friends Ronald McDonald, Wendy, and (only in my strongest moments) that silly sign-toting cow at Chick-fil-A. So, given my affinity for pretzels and my recent lack of the tasty snack, I was very happy to find out about National Pretzel Day.
Chris and I celebrated today’s “unofficial” while we were on our lunch break. The past couple of days have been so beautiful outside that we were itching to find a an exit strategy from our building. Luckily, our office is located conveniently (or not so conveniently if you look at the crime statistics) across the street from Springfield Mall, which was one of the nicer malls in Norther Virginia when I was a toddler, but has fallen victim to a rapid decline over the past decade. In spite of several vacant spaces, it still has a pretty good food offering (probably kept profitable due to all of the businesses in the area), and Springfield Mall just so happens to have an Auntie Anne’s! After Chris and I hustled over there we took some time deliberating our order before we indulgently decided to take advantage of the ‘Buy 3 get 1 Free’ offer.