Crab Pretzels Are A Truly Unique Maryland Staple

Anyone who's ever lived in Maryland can tell you that while there are certainly plenty of regional dishes, one ingredient dominates local cuisine: blue crab. From Maryland crab cakes and crab dip to soft shell crabs and even just the simple crack-'em and rack-'em crab feast, there's nothing Marylanders love more than digging into some good crustacean.

But what a lot of people don't realize about Maryland's love of crab is there are more dishes than just those you're likely to be familiar with. Crab is found in the most unique dishes. You can find one of those dishes on the menus of plenty of sports bars in the area, and it may be as intriguing a combination of two words as could appear in any discussion of cuisine anywhere: crab pretzel. Whatever you think the crab pretzel might be, trust that it is far more delicious than the theories you've concocted.

The crab pretzel shows up all over the place in Maryland

It's interesting that most people outside of the mid-Atlantic region (comprising D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware) haven't heard of crab pretzels because they're not exactly an obscure local dish that you can only get in one or two restaurants. They're popular enough that Phillips sells frozen packaged crab pretzels, and iconic enough that they're sold at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. That second point isn't a minor one; this is a state with the official sport of jousting, so the Ren Faire is kind of the Maryland Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, the definition of a crab pretzel is simpler than you might think. Take one soft pretzel, then top it in creamy crab dip. Cover it in some cheese (cheddar, Monterrey jack, mozzarella, whatever you'd prefer), bake it, top it with the requisite Old Bay seasoning (if you don't do this, they might revoke your Maryland card), and boom — crab pretzel.

We're not entirely sure where they come from

It's not clear where the crab pretzel originated. Several restaurants claim to have created it, including the Silver Spring Mining Company, which is extremely adamant it's responsible. More realistically, though, it feels like a dish that was just an idea waiting for a mind to be dropped into; it's such a Maryland concept that it almost feels like it had to be created at some point. Regardless, it's now become a Maryland staple; they even sell them at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the home of the Baltimore Orioles.

Whoever invented them, though, is owed a debt of gratitude. Anyone from Maryland can tell you that there's no quicker way to catch the attention of someone who isn't from the region than by saying the words "crab pretzel" and watching the fascinated intrigue spread across their face. Hopefully, with more time, the gospel of the crab pretzel will spread, and more people will come to know its glory.