The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, established in 1861, is the first commercial pretzel bakery in America. Julius Sturgis is located in historic Lititz in the middle of beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
Now, all these years later, the bakery is still operated by the Sturgis family using the same old-fashioned recipe and methods originally established by Julius Sturgis.
Visitors can tour the original 19th century pretzel bakery, get a hands-on lesson in pretzel twisting, see old-fashioned soft pretzels being made by hand, and learn the history of pretzel making in America. You can also shop for delicious treats and souvenirs in their bakery store.
Pretzels have an ancient history, but the origin of the pretzel remains a mystery. There are many stories as to how the first pretzel was created, the most common being that in 610 A.D. Italian monks used scraps of dough to form the shape of children’s arms in prayer, with three holes to represent the Christian Trinity. They were called “pretiola” in Latin or “little reward” and were given to children who learned their bible verses and prayers.
The Palantine Germans, later known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, brought pretzels to America in 1710. German children wore the pretzels around their necks on New Year’s for good luck.
In 1850, Julius Sturgis ran a bread bakery in Lititz, Pennsylvania. Legend has it that a hobo who had hitched a ride on a train that ran behind the bakery followed the smell of freshly baked bread, looking for a job and something to eat. Julius couldn’t offer the man a job, but he extended his hospitality and invited the hobo to sit down at the family dinner table. In exchange for the kindness, the hobo gave Julius a pretzel recipe.
As with most legends, this one contains very little actual fact. We’re not sure how the story came about, but we do know that in 1861, after eleven years as a baker, Julius stopped making bread and established the first commercial pretzel bakery in America.
Adults and children of all ages are invited to learn how to twist a pretzel and take part in the tour conversation. During the tour you will get a hands-on lesson in pretzel twisting using a sample piece of pretzel dough on their antique twisting table, and see the original ovens built by Julius Sturgis in 1861.
You’ll also learn how pretzel baking has changed from 1861 to today and see bakers twisting and baking their hand-made soft pretzels that are sold in the bakery store. Everyone receives a complimentary sample of their “Little Ones” hard pretzels at the end of each tour.
You can also taste and purchase their fresh hot soft pretzels and the company’s variety of hard pretzels.
The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery retail store offers their classic selection of pretzels including low-sodium options, as well as beautiful gift assortments of their pretzels and snacks accented with decorative pottery display dishes.
Julius Sturgis features hand-made soft pretzels, as well as many varieties of hard pretzels baked by the direct descendants of Julius Sturgis at Tom Sturgis Pretzels in Reading, Pennsylvania. These include traditional Dutch, hard, and thin pretzels, as well as new flavored pretzels like honey mustard and onion, cinnamon and sugar, hot cheese, and sesame. For sweet lovers, the store offers a wide selection of chocolate-covered pretzels.
Tours are offered every day, beginning half an hour after the store opens. The last tour of the day is usually a half-hour before closing time. The tour runs around 20 minutes in length.
The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery
The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery is a historic landmark and is not a modern pretzel baking facility. They bake old-fashioned soft pretzels on site. The hard pretzels are manufactured in their modern bakery in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Bakery Tour Admission: $3.50 adults and $2.50 children
Address: 219 East Main Street (Route 772), Lititz, PA 17543
Phone: (717) 626-4354
These pretzels are making me thirsty!