History of the Soft Pretzel

The history of the pretzel is rich and steeped in tradition, with roots that can be traced back to early medieval Europe. Here’s a detailed look at the origins and rise in popularity of the oversized soft pretzel:


Early Beginnings (6th Century)

Monastic Origins

The earliest documented evidence of pretzels dates back to the early Middle Ages. One popular legend suggests that pretzels were invented by an Italian monk around 610 AD. He twisted leftover dough into the shape of a child’s arms in prayer and gave them as rewards to children who learned their prayers. These were called "pretiola" in Latin, meaning "little rewards."


The three holes of the pretzel were said to represent the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus, pretzels became associated with both religious traditions and simple nourishment.

Spread Across Europe (7th-12th Century)

Pretzels spread from Italy to other parts of Europe, particularly among monastic communities in Germany and Austria. They became a common sight in abbeys and monasteries, where they were used to symbolize good luck, prosperity, and spiritual fulfillment.

By the 12th century, pretzels were commonly depicted in illustrations and manuscripts, highlighting their importance in religious and cultural life.


Middle Ages to Renaissance (13th-17th Century)

Lent and Fasting

Pretzels gained popularity during the Lenten season because they were made from simple ingredients (water, flour, and salt) that were allowed during fasting. Their association with Lent further embedded them into the cultural and religious practices of the time.

Baker Guilds

In medieval Germany, pretzel baking became more professionalized with the formation of baker guilds. These guilds helped standardize the production of pretzels, ensuring quality and consistency.


Immigration to America

German immigrants brought the pretzel to America in the 18th century, particularly to Pennsylvania, which remains a hub for pretzel production to this day. The soft pretzel became a popular snack at local bakeries, fairs, and festivals.

Industrialization and Commercialization

By the 19th century, pretzels began to be produced on a larger scale. The invention of modern baking techniques and equipment allowed for mass production, which helped spread their popularity beyond ethnic enclaves.


Sports and Street Food

In the 20th century, soft pretzels became a popular snack at sporting events, street vendors, and amusement parks. Their portability and savory taste made them a favorite among various demographics.

Cultural Icon

Today, the oversized soft pretzel is a cultural icon in many parts of the world, especially in the United States and Germany. They are celebrated during events like Oktoberfest and are a staple at many sporting events, fairs, and street food markets.


Regional Variations


In Bavaria, pretzels (Brezn) are often served with Weißwurst (white sausage) and mustard, and they are an integral part of Oktoberfest celebrations.

United States

In Philadelphia, soft pretzels are particularly beloved, with unique variations like the Philly-style soft pretzel, which is often served with mustard or cheese dip.


Good Luck and Prosperity

In many cultures, pretzels are still seen as symbols of good luck and prosperity. They are often given as gifts during weddings and other celebrations.

Religious Significance

Pretzels continue to hold religious significance, especially in Christian traditions, where they are sometimes consumed during Lent or given as treats during religious holidays.

The oversized soft pretzel has a long and storied history that spans over a millennium. From its humble beginnings in monastic communities to its status as a beloved snack in modern times, the pretzel has maintained its cultural and culinary significance across generations and continents.


Our Soft Pretzels are a combination of Sweet and Savery. If you like dipping your Soft Pretzel, you can get a portion cup of our Hummus. 

Pretzels are a great idea for your next party. Set up a Pretzel Bar with several types of dips, cheeses, fruit, and deli meats.