The Pretzel That Ate Manhattan


The Hofbrau Bierhaus pretzel is almost a foot in width.

Sure, pretzels come in a variety of sizes and styles — there are hard pretzels in a bag, small enough that you can probably eat the entire bag, and rock-salt-snowed street pretzels big enough that one’s almost a satisfying meal, especially if you smear on the grainy mustard.

We’ve examined the history of pretzels before, and noted that the origin is medieval, and the shape is intended to mimic the posture — with arms crossed — that one assumed while praying, way before simply putting your hands together became the norm.

If you thought the book on pretzels has been closed, head to NYC’s newest and oddest beer garden. Hofbrau Bierhaus is owned and branded by a famous Munich brewer, often associated with Oktoberfest in that city. The place sits on the second floor of a two-story building, with skylights that make it seem almost like an open-air beer garden.

Imported glasses of astonishing size hold beer in metric measures, and the food constitutes a compendium of Bavarian cuisine. But the biggest surprise is not the schnitzel list — but the size of the pretzels.

Nearly a foot in length, and costing $9 each, these pretzels fill an entire dinner plate and are intended for the consumption of an entire group of drinkers. They’re served with a choice of savory or sweet mustard. These pretzels are a cousin of the city’s street-vended product, only darker and maltier-tasting. While the New York street pretzel could almost function as bread, the Munich version could not.

Is this the world’s largest pretzel? Clearly not. Guinness awards that honor to a Latvian pretzel nearly 10 meters in width, made from dough that weighed a whopping 125 kilograms. If only those Latvians had managed to take a picture!

Hoisting the suds at Hofbrau Bierhaus