By Caryl Clem:
Pretzels have propelled through history by prayers and beer. Pretzels were created by a monk shaping scraps of bread dough into a shape paying homage to the trinity with arms crossed over in prayer. Spelled petiole in Latin, the newly shaped baked bread was a treat for children who learned their prayers. In old German brezitella means an arm which adds credibility to the monk theory. Germans became famous serving hard and soft Bavarian style pretzels with mustard or tankards of beer. By the 12th century, the bakers guild symbol was the pretzel.
Illinois has its own Pretzel City 100 miles from Chicago. Germans dominated the culture in Stephenson County and the town of Freeport. According to records from the Historical Society; 5 brewing companies were producing large quantities of beer followed by the increased production of pretzels by Billerbeck Bakery, beer’s favorite taste bud companion. In 1895, The Daily Democrat declared Freeport to be “Pretzel City.” Even the Freeport High School adopted the pretzel as its mascot. Proudly upholding the pretzels with beer traditions are Generation Brewing Company on Adams St., or travel about 12 miles to visit either Lena Brewing Company or Wishful Acres Farm and Brewery.
Chicago offers authentic family recipe Bavarian soft pretzels made by Reinhard Richter at DANK Haus German Cultural Center classes. Yelp advertises the top ten places located in Chicago to find German pretzels and beer. Foursquare adds more pretzel places that showcase new pretzel creations to add to your favorite choices. The fastest way to satisfy the pretzel urge is a trip to the grocery store. I love Snyder‘s of Hanover Honey Mustard and Onion Pretzel Pieces or pretzel sticks ready to get stuck in a dip.
April 26 is National Pretzel day so celebrate devouring them in twisted or straight form. For the diet conscious, pretzels are low carb and a great substitute for potato chips or French fries alongside your sandwich. Worldwide consumption of pretzels is growing, no sugar for diabetics, low or no salt for heart friendly dinning: best reasons of all, TASTE, enjoy some soon.