The annual United States pretzel industry is worth more than $550 million, and the average American consumes about 1.5 pounds of pretzels per year. Eighty percent of these pretzels are made in Pennsylvania, where hard pretzels originated.
Hard pretzels were invented in the late 1600s, when a snoozing apprentice in a Pennsylvania bakery accidentally over-baked his pretzels, creating crunchy, seemingly inedible, knots. His job was spared when the master baker, took a bite out of one–and loved it.
These days hard pretzels are coated with sugary yogurt, sometimes tinted garish colors, chocolate and butterscotch. Pretzel nuggets and pretzel sticks can be stuffed with peanut butter. At sporting events, malls and amusement parks, soft pretzels are popular snacks often served warm with mustard or dipping sauce.
The pretzel shape has inspired architecture, fashion and furniture design, slang and dance steps.
(Source: How Stuff Works)