Small Differences: Pretzels

Pennsylvania is obsessed with pretzels.  

Perhaps all of America is but I feel confident in stating that pretzels are a big thing here in PA.  A really very big thing.  A cornerstone of Pennsylvanian culture indeed.  Pretzels originated in Europe, probably in Medieval monasteries, and according to good old wikipedia the distinctive form of the pretzel has often been used as a symbol of a bakery in Germany.  Nevertheless, despite their Old World origins, pretzels were not a big deal in Scotland.  We had ready access to the tiny hard ones that come in a bag but the baked soft pretzels were hard to come by.  Mr Pict would arrive home triumphant with pretzels in hand for the kids, as proud as any neanderthal father dragging home a side of mammoth from the hunt.  The Pict menfolk love pretzels.  I loathe the hard ones and feel very meh about the soft ones.

Pretzels emigrated to America with the Amish and Mennonites fleeing Switzerland and Germany so I guess it is the whole Pennsylvania Dutch thing that contributes to pretzels being so special here in PA.  Mr Pict is descended from a family of Mennonites who first settled in Pennsylvania so perhaps he and the boys are genetically predisposed to love them.  According to Wikipedia (again, because I cannot be bothered conducting in-depth research) “[t]he average Philadelphian today consumes about twelve times as many pretzels as the national average”.  They really are massively popular here, even statistically it seems.

My kids, who have always liked pretzels well enough, have been indoctrinated into loving pretzels.  They are not quite at fanatical levels of adoration yet but they love that the school has pretzel days every few weeks where they each get a soft pretzel to snack on, they love that bakeries sell varieties of pretzels they had never even imagined before we emigrated here and they love that pretzels are sold as street food here or at events in the way burgers and chips (as in fries) would have been in Britain.

Today I was on a field trip with my preschooler.  The kids were instructed to “sit like pretzels”.  Six months ago that would have meant nothing to my 4 year old.  No reference point.  Zero understanding.  Blank.  But today he tucked his legs under him into the lotus position without even pondering it.  Back in Scotland we used to instruct the boys to adopt lotus position by instructing them to put their “legs in a basket”.  I guess it is pretzel position from now on.  Indoctrination.  My kids are now officially part of the Pretzel Cult.