January 30th is National Croissant Day in the United States. It’s an American day of recognition for a French pastry that really came from Austria. Why not?
One of the most widely accepted versions of the croissant’s origin story begins in 1683 during the Ottoman Empire’s siege of Vienna. Ottoman soldiers were attempting to enter the city by digging an underground tunnel. A Viennese baker working in a basement storeroom heard the sound of the digging and alerted the Austrian army, thus thwarting the Ottoman attack.
The baker was honored for helping to save Vienna. In celebration of the Ottoman defeat, he created a pastry in the shape of a crescent moon, the symbol of the Ottoman Empire. This pastry, known as kipferl, became a Viennese breakfast staple.
In the late-1830s, Austrian entrepreneur August Zang brought the kipferl to France. His ‘Boulangerie Viennoise’ (Viennese bakery) was an instant hit in Paris. French bakers quickly made Zang’s recipe their own and the croissant, as we know it, was born. Happy National Croissant Day!