Did you know that our pastries, a French emblem par excellence, did not come from France?

“Yes yes croissant, baguette”, a foreigner would say to a French person, perfectly illustrating the place taken in the national heritage by pastries. Stars of breakfast, or even snacks for extremists, these puff pastry treats are an integral part of our culture. And if the history of the croissant and pain au chocolat is closely linked to the rich tradition of French baking, its history can sometimes be little known, between legends and historical facts.

The croissant, often associated with France, actually has… Austrian origins! Its creation dates back to the 17th century, during the siege of Vienna by the Ottomans in 1683. Legend has it that an Austrian baker, alerted by the noises coming from Ottoman troops digging tunnels under the city, warned the authorities. In recognition of his gesture, he is said to have invented a crescent-shaped bread, symbol of the Ottoman emblem, to commemorate the victory of the forces of the Holy Roman Empire. This bread took the name “Kipferl” in German, meaning “croissant”.

Over the next few years, the Kipferl grew in popularity and may have arrived in France thanks to Marie Antoinette, the Austrian archduchess who became Queen of France, who introduced it to the court in the late 18th century. However, it was not associated with the crescent as we know it today until the 19th century. It was at this time that Parisian bakers perfected the recipe by giving it its characteristic croissant shape and enriching it with butter, which gave it its light and flaky texture.

As for pain au chocolat, its history is a little less clear. Some claim that it was invented in Vienna (also!), in Austria, then introduced to France at the same time as the croissant. Others argue that it appeared in France in the 19th century, when Parisian bakers began topping their pastries with chocolate.

Whatever its origin, pain au chocolat quickly became a specialty appreciated throughout the country. Its popularity is such that it is now an integral part of the French breakfast and is sold in all bakeries and patisseries in France, whether under the name “pain au chocolat” or “chocolatine”.

Today, the croissant and pain au chocolat are iconic symbols of French gastronomy, appreciated by both locals and tourists from around the world. Their history is a testament to the importance of tradition and innovation in French cuisine, and their deliciously flaky flavor continues to delight the taste buds of gourmands around the world.