8 interesting facts about the PA-born pretzel paradise, Auntie Anne’s

8 Interesting Facts About The PA-Born Pretzel Paradise, Auntie Anne’s

Photo courtesy of Auntie Anne's via Instagram

By Kalena Thomhave

March 4, 2024

Be careful reading these facts about Pennsylvania-born Auntie Anne’s, the biggest soft pretzel company in the world, because you might just find yourself on the way to the mall to satisfy a soft pretzel craving.

Sure, you love Auntie Anne’s butter-coated soft pretzels, a staple of mall food courts for well over 30 years. But how much do you really know about the Pennsylvania-born pretzel giant? Read on to bolster your Auntie Anne’s knowledge.

1. Auntie Anne’s started at a farmers market in Chester County.

Auntie Anne’s, a mainstay of the American shopping mall, was not actually born from the union of a Great American Cookies stand and a Sbarro. Auntie Anne’s was started by “Auntie” Anne Beiler in 1988.

Beiler bought a stand at a farmers market in Chester County’s Downingtown and began selling homemade pretzels — using the same recipe that’s still used to make Auntie Anne’s pretzels today.

2. Auntie Anne’s pretzels are part of a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition.

Pretzels have a long history in southern Germany, where bakers have been making soft pretzels for decades. The pillowy treats were introduced to North America by emigrants from this region of Germany, who largely settled in Pennsylvania and became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Auntie Anne’s started by taking over a farmers market stand that had sold Amish-made treats, including pretzels. Founder Anne Beiler was raised in an Amish-Mennonite family — in fact, Beiler had just an eighth-grade education, like most Amish kids when she was growing up. But that didn’t stop her from becoming a soft pretzel magnate.

3. The first pretzel shop originally sold pizza.

When Anne Beiler bought the original farmers market stand, the previous owners had sold pretzels and pizza. Beiler initially kept the original menu, until she tweaked the pretzel recipe and made it her own. The response was so positive she dropped pizza from the menu and began to focus on pretzels.

Within a year, Auntie Anne’s had added a second location at the Broad Street Market in Harrisburg. And by 1992, there were more than 100 Auntie Anne’s locations.

4. Auntie Anne’s has nearly 2,000 locations.

It may not be surprising that Auntie Anne’s has more than 1,950 locations (including 130 in Pennsylvania, the most of any state) considering a mall is not an authentic mall without one. But did you know that the pretzel shop has expanded to 26 other countries? In fact, Auntie Anne’s serves pretzels that have been certified halal in countries such as Malaysia. Also on the Malaysian menu? Seaweed pretzels!

Photo courtesy of Auntie Anne Beiler via Facebook.

5. Auntie Anne’s funded free counseling services for decades.

When Anne Beiler took the job of farmers-market-stand pretzel chef, the idea was that she would bring in an income while her husband provided counseling services to the community — for free. The pretzel shop eventually became a success — and an empire — and Auntie Anne’s continued funding the counseling center for decades.

6. The pretzel shop’s angel investor was a Mennonite chicken farmer.

When Auntie Anne’s was working to expand, Anne Beiler and her husband had trouble securing a bank loan. Luckily, the Beilers found an angel investor who was interested in their pretzel project. The investor was a Mennonite chicken farmer — and he gave them $1.5 million “on a handshake,” Beiler told Fortune magazine.

7. You can order Auntie Anne’s pretzels vegan.

If you can’t have dairy products, Auntie Anne’s pretzels can easily be made vegan — really!

The butter coating is added onto the pretzel after it is baked, so you can simply request a fresh pretzel with no butter to enjoy a soft pretzel without any stomach pain. (This is also a pro tip if you want to order your pretzel fresh and watch it be made — you’ll just have to wait a few more minutes than if you grabbed one readymade.)

8. You can go on an Auntie Anne’s field trip.

Some Auntie Anne’s stores offer field trips to kids and guests, during which you can learn all about how pretzels are made, the history of the pretzels, and how to roll one yourself! Reach out to your local Auntie Anne’s to inquire about field trips.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Author

CATEGORIES: LOCAL HISTORY

Politics

PA Scranton Food Voting_AZ Tucson Food Voting

Local News

Related Stories
Share This