Hawking pretzels on the streets of New York

Before hot dogs, falafel, Mr. Softees, and other New York City street eats became food cart/vending truck staples, the hot pretzel was already a ubiquitous city favorite.

These two men are selling their pretzels in City Hall Park, circa 1936. They don’t have vending carts but cigarette boxes as a makeshift stand.

A 1923 New York Times article proclaimed that pretzel vendors had disappeared from the Park Row area. I guess the Depression brought them back.

I don’t know where the 1890s photo below was taken, but it looks like they’re hawking fruit and bread too, with more pretzels inside those baskets. 

Would these two pass a health inspection today? Hmm. (Photos from the NYPL digital archives.)

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3 Responses to “Hawking pretzels on the streets of New York”

  1. chas1133 Says:

    1890’s…? I think I bought a pretzel off that guy last week!

  2. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    There used to be an old Jewish guy in the early 60s selling pretzels on 14th and 1st. One day some kids knocked over his basket and taunted him to do something about it but all he could was mumble angry words at them in Yiddish, picking up his soiled pretzels and placing them back in his basket. They didn’t look so good after that.

  3. Alex Says:

    Pretzels slightly soiled by falling on the ground was not as big an issue 50 years ago as it would be today. Those kids were cruel to hurt an old man’s livelyhood for a mean prank.

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