Culinary History,  Food History,  History,  Parties,  Picnics,  Snacks

The First Snacks – Pretzels, Popcorn and Chips

Some snacks have been around a long time! But most of the snack foods that we enjoy today were not considered snack foods until the turn of the century. And every country today has it’s own brands, types and preferences in snacks. Here’s a little history on three of the oldest snacks we still consume today.

Pretzels: Pretzels are some of the oldest snacks ever eaten. Legends say that they were first created in the Middle Ages by either Italian or German monks as rewards for their students. The word “pretzel” is derived from a Latin word meaning “with branches” or “little arms” or “bracelet”. Since traditional pretzels look like folded arms, it is easy to see where the connection to the name comes from! Pretzels were brought to American by the Pennsylvania Dutch. Most pretzels were hard, but at the turn of the century, soft pretzels began to become popular. They are generally considered a more healthy carb snack being usually baked and not fried.

Popcorn: Also one of the oldest snacks known to man, popcorn was believed to have been consumed by the Native Americans long before Europeans showed up. Since corn is a New World plant and product, popcorn was first enjoyed on these shores most likely in Mexico. Popcorn is a specially bred kind of corn which has smaller, rounder kernels. Once popcorn was discoverd by Americans, it became a part of our lives. It shows up everywhere from the movie theater to sporting events to Christmas decorations! It was especially popular among American families during World War II. Plain popped popcorn is considered a wonderful snack with low calories. It’s my favorite snack personally 🙂

Chips: Chips in America are different than chips in England. What the English call “chips”, Americans call “french fries”. Crispy, thin potato chips were first mentioned in early American cookbooks. Potatoes are another New World crop that became popular the world over. Legend has it that chips as we know them today were invited in the late 1800s in Saratoga Springs, New York, by a cook named George Crum. Potato chips became very popular at the turn of the century with some companies offering the option to have the snack shipped to your door. Today, chips are just as popular as ever with all kinds of brands and flavors. Also very popular today is making chips out of other root vegetables like beets, cassava and sweet potato.

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