Posts Tagged ‘candy bar’
Today, pretzels are a humble food. Simply, salty, and greasy, they are a fixture at ball parks and airports across America.
But back in the day—like way back in the day, before baseball—pretzels were the food of royalty. By all accounts, the first pretzel goes all the way back to the 6th century, either to France, Italy, or Germany.
And while the country of origin remains unclear, the first image of the pretzel makes it pretty clear that it was a important food, reserved for the fanciest and most lavish of parties.
Consider the scene above, from the Hortus deliciarum.
Look at how Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus are presiding over this v v lit Biblical party; their table is filled with fish, fancy cutlery, and a solitary, salty, badass pretzel.
The Hortus deliciarum is an illustrated encyclopedia (the first to be compiled by a woman) from the 12th century containing the first known depiction of the pretzel. It gives us a glimpse into the cultural weight once occupied by everyone’s favorite baseball food.
Its coveted place next to fish in this religious painting is no accident. The folds are supposedly meant to symbolize hands in prayer, and the three holes are the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—it was basically the most Christian food that humans could conceive of. Apparently, they were even hidden from children in an early incarnation of the Easter egg hunt…
More on both the spiritual and the more earthly significance of the salted treat at “The History of the Pretzel Is Mad Twisted.”
* Jerry Seinfeld
As we contemplate contortion, we might send sweet birthday greetings to Otto Y. Schnering; he was born on this date in 1891. Widely known as the “U.S. Candy Bar King,” Schnering harnessed his personal sales skills and understanding of advertising and marketing to build the Curtiss Candy Company in Chicago and the post–World War I United States chocolate candy industry into modern, successful enterprises. Schnering’s first confectionery creation (in 1916) was Kandy Kake, refashioned in 1921 as the log-shaped Baby Ruth (allegedly named after President Grover Cleveland’s daughter Ruth); his second, the chocolate-covered peanut butter crunch Butterfinger (1926).
The earliest ancestor of the Kit Kat Bar was born in 1935, when a worker at the Rowntree’s factory in York suggested a snack that “a man could have in his lunch box for work.” It was launched in September 1935 in the UK as Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp (price: 2 pence). The two-finger version was launched on May 15, 1936, then renamed “Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp” in 1937; after World War II, it became simply “Kit Kat.” The name is thought to be a nod to the Kit-Cat Club, an eighteenth-century Whig literary club:
As the building had very low ceilings, it could accommodate only paintings which were wide but not too high. In the art world, such paintings became known as ‘kitkats’. It is therefore conceivable that the humble KIT KAT derived its name from paintings which has to be snapped off to fit into low-ceilinged rooms. [source]
In any case, while the versions sold in the UK and the US remain true to its milk chocolate-cover wafer heritage, Kit Kats sold elsewhere in the world have… well, adopted local coloration. “Fried Toast” (a young native of Washington State now living in Japan) has created a Flickr pool that’s a veritable field guide to Kit Kats around the globe: Kit Kats of the World.
Consider, for example, the Muscat Kit Kat…
Or the French Salt Kit Kat…
Oh so many more, here.
As contemplate cultural inclinations in confectionery, we might that it was on this date in 1585 that The Olympic Theatre was inaugurated in Vicenza. The final masterpiece of Andrea Palladio, the Renaissance disciple of Vitruvius and surely the most influential individual in the history of Western architecture, the theater opened with a production of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. The trompe-l’œil onstage scenery, designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi to give the appearance of long streets receding to a distant horizon, was installed in 1585 for that first performance, and is the oldest stage set still in existence.