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A pretzel (listen (help·info)), from German pronunciation, standard German: Breze(l) (listen (help·info) and French / Alsatian: Bretzel) is a type of baked bread made from dough that is commonly shaped into a knot. The traditional pretzel shape is a distinctive symmetrical form, with the ends of a long strip of dough intertwined and then twisted back onto itself in a particular way (a pretzel loop or pretzel bow). Today, pretzels come in a wide range of shapes.
Salt is the most common seasoning, or topping, for pretzels, complementing the washing soda or lye treatment that gives pretzels their traditional skin and flavour acquired through the Maillard reaction. Other seasonings are mustard, cheeses, sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, sweet glazing, seeds, and nuts. Varieties of pretzels include soft pretzels, which should be eaten shortly after preparation, and hard-baked pretzels, which have a long shelf life.