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Philly Pretzel Snake Crew Sweatshirt 100% Cotton


Honoring the former Pretzel Shop that now houses our first ready-to-wear store, we designed a 20oz loopback French Terry sweatshirt with a printed "Pretzel Snake" on it. That snake, of course, harkens back to Benjamin Franklin's famous woodcut printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette. It warned of the need for the colonies to join in order to fight off the French who had been attacking aggressively. Franklin wrote:

“They (the French) presume that they may with Impunity violate the most solemn Treaties subsisting between the two Crowns, kill, seize and imprison our Traders, and confiscate their Effects at Pleasure (as they have done for several Years past) murder and scalp our Farmers, with their Wives and Children, and take an easy Possession of such Parts of the British Territory as they find most convenient for them,” Franklin concluded, warning that the British presence in North America was at stake.

As the Constitution Center notes - Accompanying the article was the “JOIN, OR DIE” cartoon, with a snake cut into eight pieces that symbolized the British colonies. Franklin’s message hit home as the cartoon and article started appearing in other colonial newspapers.

In a 1996 article in The British Library Journal, Karen Severud Cook reviewed the brief, but interesting, historical interpretations of the cartoon. Franklin’s cartoon, Cook said, was also a symbolic map, with the initials next to the snake’s segments in the same order of the colonies and a rough proximity of a coastline. It is likely that Franklin himself didn’t engrave the etching, since he was busy with his political career. The “Join or Die” cartoon also wasn’t the first political cartoon he had published; Franklin had done another cartoon for a pamphlet in 1747.

A severed snake image, in two pieces, had first appeared in a 1685 book in France accompanied by the words “se rejoindre ou mourir” (will join or die).  And Franklin might also have been inspired by rattlesnake images drawn by nature historian Mark Catesby. The emblematic image gained considerable attention as the Albany Congress approached. The Congress met in June and July, where Franklin proposed an early version of a unified colonial government.  A President General appointed by the crown and a Grand Council of representatives would be appointed by each of the colonies. Franklin’s government was limited in scope: It could provide for joint military protection and also levy taxes. The Congress approved the plan, but the British government and the colonies never acted on it.

In later years, the Join or Die cartoon resurfaced on important occasions. The emblem reappeared in colonial newspapers during the Stamp Act crisis. Versions of the snake cartoon appeared in newspapers during the American Revolutionary War, sometimes as part of a masthead. And the snake cartoon was used by both sides during the Civil War.  It's constructed with a 4 needle flat-lock stitching technique for long lasting durability.

Our sweatshirt: 
  • Sizing runs small, size up
  • 100% Cotton
  • 20oz Reverse Grain Loopback French Terry
  • 4 Needle Flat-Lock Stitching for Increased Durability
  • Durable 2x1 Rib Cuffs and Waistband
  • Garment Washed and Pre-Shrunk