A croissant is a rolled and folded pastry, shaped into a crescent. Although traditionally a French food, served during breakfast or afternoon tea, legends and myths shroud its true origins.
According to some stories, the croissant originated in Budapest in 1686. The Turks besieged the city, and dug underground passages to reach the town; bakers working through the night heard the Turks and raised the alarm. As a thank you, they were allowed to make a special crescent-shaped pastry -- the crescent being a symbol of Islam.
The croissant pastry recipe used today is difficult to trace back. During the 17th century, bakers in Vienna baked crescent-shaped pastries, but not using the recipe known today.
The earliest croissant recipe appeared in 1905 in Dictionnair Universel de Cuisine, but it is not the same pastry recipe used today. In 1906, the croissant as we know it today appeared in Nouvelle Encylopedie Culinaire.