How Chocolate Covered Pretzels Became Such An Iconic Treat

Chocolate covered pretzels
Chocolate covered pretzels - Jmalov/Getty Images

Few foods that have lived as long as pretzels still get munched on. The pretzel has mysterious, medieval origins. Bakers have been bending bits of bread into strange shapes for centuries. In fact, it is so old that the story of its creation -- and whether or not its shape is a religious relic or a secular symbol -- is muddled by time.

The history of the chocolate-covered pretzel -- despite the invention of this salty-sweet treat taking place several hundred years later than its plain pretzel predecessor -- is almost as difficult to unravel. There are some historical clues which, when you explore them, indicate that Franz Joseph Leibniz of Hamburg, Germany, churned out the first covered pretzels in 1544. However, a cursory glance at sweets history suggests the mix wasn't even possible until considerably later. Regardless of the true origin story, this crunchy chocolate treat has stood the test of time.

Read more: 11 Discontinued Chocolates We Miss The Most

Franz Joseph Leibniz And Tasting Chocolate

Cocoa pods and dark chocolate
Cocoa pods and dark chocolate - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

In the middle of the 1500s, Franz Joseph Leibniz, a baker, teamed up with a fellow resident of Hamburg who worked as a chocolate maker. With two entrepreneurs in such close proximity, innovation inevitably ensued, and the chocolate-covered pretzel was born. Though the evidence of Leibniz's life and times is far from complete, chocolate was, and remains, a major business in Hamburg, and Hamburg's shipping port unquestionably saw countless cacao beans, which lends some credibility to this historical tale.

However, there is one substantial piece of historical data that conflicts with the Leibniz invention claim. In the 1500s, the primary method of cocoa consumption was drinking chocolate. If you don't know the difference between hot cocoa and drinking chocolate, this bitter brew, which only had a small amount of sugar, was the only way to taste chocolate until someone found a way to form it into solid bars. If people did buy chocolate pretzels from Joseph Leibniz, they were probably in for a mushy snack.

The Chocolate Covered Pretzel Makes The Mainstream

Bowl of pretzels
Bowl of pretzels - Ncognet0/Getty Images

Regardless of what happened in 1500s Hamburg, the story of the chocolate-covered pretzel is much easier to understand by the 1800s. In fact, it took until the latter half of the 19th century for crunchy pretzel twists to first become commercially available. Because contemporary chocolate in its solid form was invented earlier in the same century, it was only a matter of time before the two new products were combined.

The American pretzel boom largely comes out of Pennsylvania. There's a reason why this region is often referred to as the United States' pretzel belt, and the state still makes over 80% of the hard pretzels that are snacked on stateside. Whether this crunchy chocolate creation was pioneered by Leibniz or first popped up in the U.S., you can officially honor this delicious snack on October 7th. Costco's minty chocolate pretzels and other modern iterations of this classic treat are best enjoyed on National Chocolate Pretzel Day.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.