Freeport has a unique heritage. Being a native of Pretzel City, USA means wearing some strong stripes of honor. When I began my freshman year at Northern Illinois University in Fall 2012, representing my hometown on t-shirts meant that I turned into an instant Freeport historian.
Pretzel Power has always been an initiation for the people strong enough to wear it. When I went off to college, many people found my “pretzel power” shirts to be odd. I was asked numerous times about the logo and why were we proud to be the pretzels? My response wasn’t simple. There are numerous reasons for the pride of the mascot but the simple reason is because it personifies home.
When you move away from Freeport, there are many times you miss what made you, well, you. When I left for college, my t-shirts of the Freeport Pretzel allowed me to feel in-touch with my home. When I relocated for work those shirts and merchandise gave me a sense of pride. I felt that being from a smaller city gave me inspiration to continue striving for my bigger dreams. Growing up in the Pretzel City meant that support was always available in my time of need.
Pretzel Power on the National Level
Alumni of Freeport High School use the hashtag #FreeportPretzels to highlight their journeys. Many successful Freeport athletes have represented the Pretzel mascot in various events throughout the country. Representing the Freeport Pretzel gives the city a superpower!
Other Freeport natives tag their shirts or merchandise on their social media pages. Searching the Google hashtag #PretzelCityUSA allows the viewer to see tourists who find their pride in the pretzel monuments throughout town.
Trisha Paytas, a Freeport native and YouTube celebrity filmed a YouTube vlog about returning home. She speaks about occasionally wearing Freeport gear in Hollywood and how proud she is of her hometown.
Steve McShane, Freeport native, who recently was picked to join the Steeler’s Summer Camp was featured on news around Illinois. Steve posts many photos annually wearing his Pretzel Power shirts and old football gear. Excited to represent the city, Steve has always remained strong that Freeport is worth putting on the map.
History of the Pretzel
Freeport was dubbed the Pretzel City, USA when German settlers came to Stephenson County bringing with them their love of German baked goods including … pretzels. Pretzels became a very popular snack in bakeries in the area. Freeport adopted the pretzel mascot in their high school in 1926, and the colors orange and black become the favorite of many households. The city formally adopted the name Pretzel City, USA in 2003.
Pretzel Power Reactions
Relocating out of Freeport, can make you feel like a small fish in a big pond, but your Northwest Illinois beginnings can help you compete! Displaying your pretzel pride means you are going to develop extroverted values. Random people will point, people will stare, and some will even question you about the logos. What information you give them is your own accord, but I bet it was always the best-spoken word about your hometown.
Many people return to town to share stories of their journeys. Each tell of a time they wore their hometown t-shirts or have shown their Freeport swag and felt joy to explain their origins.
Billy George of the Greater Freeport Partnership and Bill George Heating & Cooling shared that during his time in Florida, he felt happy when he shared information about his hometown.
“I was excited to tell people where to find the merchandise when they asked. I met many tourists who found it very cool to have such pride in a snack. American Garage Art in Freeport have very good visuals and attire for any Pretzel City, USA seekers. Elliott Graphix and Pretzel City Shop also sell many items to dive into Pretzel Power,” George says.
Always A Pretzel
Freeport will host the annual Homecoming parade and festivities for Freeport High School this week. As the community gathers and dresses in their pretzel attire, Freeport pride grows stronger. Even those who can’t attend in person post their support online from their corners of the world.
Freeport has become home to many new families who value the Freeport Pretzel and the spirit continues to live on no matter where life takes us.
Remember that being a Freeport Pretzel makes you special. No matter how far we all go, home is where the heart is. When you think of your Pretzel Power and want to send the love, use hashtags and take all the selfies in the world in your gear. Pretzels aren’t amazing because it is a unique mascot that makes people talk, it is their power to make us family. I will always value that.