The thicker part makes it easier to slice them for the use of sandwiches.
In Bavarian pretzels, the arms are left thicker so they do not bake to a crisp and contain very little fat.
The pretzel shape is used for a variety of sweet pastries made of different types of dough (flaky, brittle, soft, crispy) with a variety of toppings (icing, nuts, seeds, cinnamon).
Around Christmas, they can be made of soft gingerbread ("Lebkuchen") with chocolate coating.
Pretzel baking has most firmly taken root in the region of Franconia (modern German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg) and adjoining Upper German-speaking areas, and pretzels have been an integral part of German baking traditions for centuries.
Typical Swabian pretzels, for example, have very thin "arms" and a "fat belly" with a split, and a higher fat content.
On May 1, love-struck boys used to paint a pretzel on the doors of the adored.
On the other hand, an upside-down pretzel would have been a sign of disgrace.
These "New-Years pretzels" are made in different sizes and can have a width of 50 centimetres (20 in) and more.
Sometimes children visit their godparents to fetch their New Years pretzel.