The history of the pretzel dates back to 600 AD when a monk in the area between France and Italy was playing with dough left over from the daily baking.
While he was playing he came up with a unique twist that looked like arms crossed in prayer. This baked "pretiola" was given to children as a reward for their reverence.
The treat gained in popularity, and as was the culture of the time, spread to other monasteries over the Alps into Austria and Germany where it came to be known as the "pretzel". It became more popular with time becoming a symbol in marriage (broken like a wishbone at the ceremony), saving a city (pretzel bakers heard the Turks burrowing under the walls of Vienna in 1510 A.D. and called out the alarm and saved the city), and becoming a religious symbol (a page in the prayer book used by Catharine of Cleves depicts St. Bartholomew surrounded by pretzels which were thought to bring good luck, prosperity and spiritual wholeness.)
The pretzel first appears in America in the record of, what else, a court case. It seems a baker named Carl Carmer and his wife in 1652 were charged with selling Pretzels to the Indians. The problem wasn't that the Indians were eating pretzels (which they loved), but that the pretzels were made from the good flour from milling while the bread sold to the good people of Beverwyck, New York was made from the left-overs. As recorded in the town's history "The heathen were eating flour while the Christians were eating bran."