Apparently monks had time, between "ora et lavora" (prayer and work) to reach out to kids in Lent during the Middle Ages (or as I like to call it "the overlooked time"). One Lent a monk was doing his regular chores in the kitchen of his community. He was baking unleavened bread with flour and water because eggs, milk and lard were not consumed as part of their Lenten discipline.
For fun he twisted some of the dough into the shape of people praying with both arms folded across their chests. You see, piously holding the hands together was not the norm for the church during this time. If you trace the line from across your chest, down one's crossed arms and up to where the hands are resting on the upper chest, the shape resembles an upside down, or more correctly, and upside right, pretzel. Adding a little salt for preservation and flavor, this symbol became a popular treat for children of all ages and acted as a reminder to say their prayers. The monk called them pretiola, which is the Latin word for "little reward."
Anyone tempted to go out and buy a bag of pretzels? I especially like the fresh baked one at Auntie Anne's.