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New Year’s Pretzels: Tasty salute to good luck and prosperity |
Food & Drink

New Year’s Pretzels: Tasty salute to good luck and prosperity

Mary Pickels
| Monday, December 31, 2018 9:39 a.m

Champagne is fine for ringing in the new year.

But if you like your traditions old, your first bite of the year hearty and your wishes tasty, several area bakeries and stores are selling New Year’s Pretzels.

Oversized and often decorated, savory or sweet, the pretzels are a filling — and delicious — way to welcome the new year.

According to Bethel Bakery, with locations in Bethel Park and North Strabane: one pretzel for good luck, two pretzels for great luck and three pretzels means the best year ever.

The bakery’s pretzels also are available at T-Bone’s Marketplace in Wexford.

Flavors are nut, cinnamon, Danish and apricot. Each serves 10, and the price range is $12-$13.

“My parents started the bakery in 1955, and we started selling the (New Year’s) pretzels in the 1960s,” bakery owner John Walsh says.

His father’s customers began asking about the pretzels and the bakery decided to up their game, offering filled pretzels with a richer, Danish dough.

“It’s evolved over the years, but it’s a really big thing for us. We sell hundreds and hundreds of them. They just look festive. They are fun to take to a party. I have one lady who bought six of them to give to her neighbors. We are over (Christmas) cookies by now. (Pretzels) are a nice way to end the old year and start the year new year,” Walsh says.

Good luck wishes, savory and sweet

Numerous online resources claim to tell the history of the pretzels, big enough to satisfy more than one appetite.

Most tales center around the consumption of the pastries at midnight or before breakfast on New year’s Day, in order to bring one good luck and prosperity in the new year.

On Grandma’s Country Oven Bake Shoppe Facebook site, one can read of children tying the giant pretzels around their necks, offering the treats to relatives to wish them good luck in the coming new year.

Another story cites the origin of the pretzels as having been modeled after the way in which German monks prayed, crossing arms across chest to seek peace, health and prosperity for villagers.

Yet another claim is that the round shape of the pretzel is based on the old calendar sign for the winter solstice, with the central cross later added to represent the four seasons.

Regardless, the bakery notes, the pretzels are a “tasty and fun way to celebrate old world traditions.”

Savory flavors include salted, jalapeno-cheddar, garlic-parmesan and cheddar. Sweet fillings include cinnamon, cinnamon nut, cheese, strawberry cream, cranberry cream, apricot, apple or cherry.

“We’ve been making them since we (owners Kathy and Bill Young) opened in 1991,” says Jennifer Matrisch, general manager and the Youngs’ daughter.

“The filled ones are definitely the most popular. We just started the savory kind last year,” she adds.

The plain salt pretzels are especially good with the dipping sauces the bakery suggests, such as mustard, marinara or cheese.

“Most people like the traditional, sweet flavors. These (savory) are starting to take off,” Kathy Young says.

The smaller pretzels serve about six, while the larger ones serve 12-15.

Prices range from $4.69 to $15.59.

If you want to enjoy, or offer, a New Year’s Pretzel, don’t dally. Both bakeries will close at 4:00 p.m. today.

Details: 724-744-9873 or ; 412-835-6658 or

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

Facebook | BethelBakery
Bethel Bakery, with locations in Bethel Park and North Strabane, sells New Year’s Pretzels.
Mary Pickels
Kathy Young rolls pretzel dough at Grandma’s Country Oven Bake Shoppe in Penn Township.
Mary Pickels
Iced New Year’s Pretzels ready for purchase at Grandma’s Country Oven Bake Shoppe in Penn Township.
Mary Pickels
New Year’s Pretzels get an egg wash before baking at Grandma’s Country Oven Bake Shoppe in Penn Township.
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