Pretzels can vary in size, from small, snack-sized, to truly large ones that can feed several people. They are often characterized by a twisted knot shape with a thick “body” and thinner “arms” and a glossy brown surface, which is usually sprinkled with coarse salt. The inside is typically soft. In some regions neighboring Germany, pretzels are cut horizontally and served with butter (so-called “butterbrezel”). Classic pretzels are also the most common representative of lye bread “laugenbrezel”. The lye treatment gives pretzels their characteristic color, taste, and structure.
In Switzerland, pretzels are often enjoyed as a snack and can be found in bakeries or supermarkets. One piece of this bread will cost you 1.20 CHF (which is approx. the same amount in EUR).
The pretzel probably originates from the early Middle Ages, likely from monasteries in what is now Italy or southern Germany. There are various legends about its origin. According to one, a monk invented it, with the shape of the pretzel representing hands crossed on the chest during prayer and gave them to children as a reward for learning prayers.
In Germany and Switzerland, the pretzel is often associated with Lent and Easter. Today, pretzels are known and popular far beyond the borders of these regions and are made in various forms, from soft to hard, from salty to sweet.