It’s a shape, at least in Denmark. An upside-down (to us Americans at any rate) pretzel. This symbol, which is usually cast in gold with a crown on top, means “bakery” for the Danes. It’s a guild symbol, one of the few that are still in use in Europe these days.
You find this generic shape applied to any number of sweet and savory baked items in Denmark. There are salty kringles (what we know as pretzels), sugar kringles (cookies or pretzels sprinkled with sugar), kringle breads and of course the large kringle pastry we’re talking about this week.
The funny thing about those Danish pretzel-shaped kringles is that the word “kringle” in old Norse actually means “ring”. But it’s usually American kringles that are ring-shaped. Which means that our Wisconsin knock-off kringles are in their own way more authentic than the real thing, which is a bit confusing.
But then the Danes don’t own kringles anymore than the French own baguettes. Laminated dough, just like long, white, fluffy, quick-rising loaves, were invented in Vienna. And when you get right down to it, the pretzel shape itself isn’t Danish, it’s a southern European creation, brought to Denmark by Catholic monks. And if you really want to keep heaping excrement on the Danes, their gold-y, pretzel-y, crown-y guild sign wasn’t theirs to begin with, either. They ripped it off from the Germans!
So who’s inauthentic now, suckas? That’s right, don’t mess with me! I’ve got a food history library and I’m not afraid to use it! Oh yeah, I’m kickin’ can and takin’ names today, kids…look out below!