Pretzel Day is an unofficial holiday observed every year on April 26, and it celebrates one of America's favorite snacks: the pretzel. Although pretzels can be had any time of the year, this holiday was made so that the doughy, salty snack can get the appreciation it deserves.
On Pretzel Day, bakeries and food trucks often offer freebies for pretzel lovers. The holiday has been popularized in recent years, due to featuring in an episode of the tv show The Office, where characters Stanley and Michael get excited over Pretzel Day and spend their workday waiting in line for a free pretzel.
The day is an unofficial celebration, and as such, it is not a public holiday.
Although one wouldn't think about it, pretzels actually date back to the Middle Ages. While not confirmed, it is speculated that the first pretzels were created in the 7th century in Italy when Monks found themselves with too much leftover dough, and thus the pretzel was invented. They baked it by folding it into the knot we know now, either to symbolize the shape of praying hands or the holy trinity, opinions differ on this one.
However, the first actual historical evidence we have of the pretzel's creation is recorded in the 12th century, when in 1111 the snack was added to the German baker's guild, in Germany.
Because of its connection to Christianity, pretzels became a symbol of good luck, and people would often use them to decorate their Christmas trees. At one point, it was also a popular food for weddings and considered a symbol of marriage, and it is possible that this is what originated the expression "tying the knot".
Pretzels arrived in the United States by the hands of German settlers in Pennsylvania. There, they opened bakeries where pretzels were one of the most popular products, gaining its place as one of America's most beloved snacks. Pennsylvania also became the main manufacturer of pretzels in America, a title that stands until today.
Pretzels are, in fact, so popular in Pennsylvania, that while the average American eats 2-pounds of pretzels a year, a Pennsylvanian eats around 12-pounds. It is no surprise then that Pretzel Day was born in Pennsylvania when in 2003 Governor Ed Rendell established it as an official observance, that eventually extended to the whole country.
How to celebrate
What better way to celebrate Pretzel Day than to eat one, or many, pretzel? Whether you prefer the salty or the sweet ones, keep an eye out for deals and free pretzels around you to enjoy the day even more.
If you enjoy cooking, why not try baking some pretzels and offering them to your friends and family.