For a place to have the title “America’s first pretzel bakery,” one might think “this place has unique history to it.” Named as one of Trip Advisor’s “Certificate of Excellence” winners for the outstanding reviews, it is called the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery.
In Lititz, Pennsylvania on Main Street, you will find a building almost like a small house, where the owner originally lived. While he was living there, he turned half of it into the bakery. If you ignore the huge pretzel statue and the sign out front, you can mistake it as just a house where a family lives. It was established in 1861, by Julius Sturgis himself after 11 years as a bread baker at Lititz bakery. He bought the house that was built in 1784 by Peter Kreiter, which is noted as one of the original structures in Lititz.
While in the bakery doing one of the tours, which are given from the hours of 9:30am- 4:30pm you will leave thinking, “this is the best $3.75 I have ever spent.” Arriving there at 12:45, waiting 15 minutes to take the tour because they are given every 30 minutes, you sit in the waiting area observing different historical parts of the bakery. Elma, the amazing tour guide, greets you with a smile and seems excited about the pretzel bakery and its history. The tour includes walking through where Sturgis and his workers once baked the pretzels. You also get the chance to see the dough makers and oven they used.
When asked about meeting the Sturgis family, Elma said, “Yes, they are wonderful I met Tom and his son Bruce who is now in charge of the Reading, PA bakeries. Bruce comes in from time to time to check on us.”
She asked where where everyone was from because usually when she says Reading, no one is familiar with the town, as they are from all over. A part of the tour is having the chance to twist your own pretzel. It was a good experience and one of the best parts of the tour. After completing the tour, you get a certificate as an official twister. Elma says about 10 years ago, they would allow people to bake the pretzels they twisted.
The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery has been baking pretzels for decades; Sturgis himself thought of it after working in a bread bakery in Lititz. He would clean the inside of the ovens and often find remaining dough in the oven, it would get hard and he thought to create the hard pretzel.
“He would pay his workers really good, compared to other places” says Elma. “He was the second highest payer at the time, paying his workers 10 cents a day…the tobacco rollers down the street would pay 12 cents.”