By Flora Posteraro
I’ve lived in Central Pennsylvania for nearly 30 years and had no idea the hard pretzel was born in Lititz, Lancaster County. I had no idea this twisted tale began in 1861 by a man by the name of Julius Sturgis. I also had no idea the original building still stands on East Main Street and you can take a mini guided tour and learn everything you ever wanted to know about pretzels!
The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery smells great and it’s full of history. In the store, you can buy soft pretzels and endless varieties of hard pretzels. But it’s the behind the scenes 25-minute tour that truly brings this place to life. Sturgis purchased the building at 219 East Main Street in Lititz in 1861 and opened the first commercial pretzel bakery in America.
More than 150 years later, not much has changed. You will hear how monks created the shape of pretzels to resemble arms in prayer. The 3 holes in a pretzel represent the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. You will see how pretzels were made in the 1800s. You get to actually make a pretzel and experience the life of a pretzel maker who earned 10 cents an hour and was expected to hand twist 50 pretzels a minute!
Although they no longer work, the original ovens from 1861 that baked pretzels to a crisp are still there. Other pretzel making artifacts are also on display and the tour ends with a free sample of pretzels! The tour costs less than $4. It is well worth it and the kids will love it! For more information, go to https://juliussturgis.com/.