Editor's Note / Pretzels / Market Trends / Columns

Pretzels’ Growing Presence

May 16, 2012
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Pretzels

There’s a nationally celebrated day or month for everything: National Hairdressers’ Day, National Bath Safety Month; Run up the Flagpole and See if Anyone Salutes Day and even Houseplant Appreciation Day.

April 26 was National Pretzel Day. The “Sing & Dance For Your Snack” campaign was Pretzelmaker’s way of getting into the act, celebrating with free soft pretzels. Once again, the Norcross, Ga.-based company gave out free pretzels on the official National Pretzel Day holiday and customers were invited to visit their local Pretzelmaker and sing a song of their choice or show off their latest dance moves to receive the freebie. As for those who wouldn’t sing or dance? They could simply say “National Pretzel Day,” and get their free pretzel.

Pretzels are also part of Pennsylvania and Ohio’s heritage. In 2003, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell declared April 26 National Pretzel Day to acknowledge the importance of the pretzel to the state’s history and economy.

The holiday was also said to be introduced nationally to Congress in 1983, by then U.S. Representative Robert Walker (R, Pennsylvania), to recognize the invaluable contributions of the numerous pretzel bakeries within Pennsylvania. Auntie Anne’s is a Pennsylvania-based franchisor, headquartered in Lancaster, Pa.

Reports claim that more than $550 million worth of pretzels are sold in the United States annually, and that rate is growing. On average, consumers in the U.S. consume up to two lb. of pretzels each year.

More bakeries are producing pretzel rolls for restaurant sandwiches and accompaniments, which is great for me, because I’m a big fan, or pretzelphyte, which is the term for a pretzel lover. Pretzels are considered by many to be the world’s oldest snack. Legend has it that the pretzel was created in 610 A.D. by an Italian monk. It’s fine by me if more pretzel rolls are baked and sold each year. The phrase, “tying the knot,” came from the Swiss, who still use the “lucky pretzel” in wedding ceremonies. Newlyweds traditionally make a wish and break a pretzel much like people in other cultures break a wishbone or a glass.

“National Pretzel Day is our favorite day of the year at Pretzelmaker, and we’re looking forward to providing our customers fresh baked pretzels once again this year. Pretzelmaker fans love this celebration and we are delighted to continue with the tradition of free pretzels for our fifth year in a row,” says Julie-Ann Reid, Pretzelmaker brand director for GFG Management, LLC, which manages Pretzelmaker.

Auntie Anne’s also toasted National Pretzel Day with its Twists. This year, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels recognized the concurrence of National Pretzel Day and National Dance Week with a pretzel dance, choreographed by “So You Think You Can Dance” star, Alex Wong. Fans of Auntie Anne’s and Wong alike could participate in a Tweet chat to learn exclusive tips about the art of “twisting.”

Pretzels have quite a rich history. Soft pretzels have become the norm at many sporting events, carnivals and festivals, and hard pretzels are still evolving. Hard pretzels were said to be invented in the late 1600s when a Pennsylvania baker forgot about a batch of pretzels in the oven. Though they seemed inedible because they were dark and hard, they were actually quite delicious and soon became wildly successful across the country.

This month, we feature pretzels and pretzel rolls in our Market Trends section. There are many interesting new takes, flavors, toppings and varieties on the familiar favorite. So do your part to take pretzels to heart and pick up a bag or a carton of your favorite kind to munch on and enjoy!  

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