America’s First Commercial Pretzel Bakery

— From the pages of Taysted Issue #03

Just 10 miles north of Lancaster is Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, America’s first commercial pretzel bakery. The original bakery room, towards the back of the building, was founded in 1861. Did you ever notice how a pretzel is in the shape of arms crossed with hands placed on the shoulders? This was the monk’s prayer formation. The pretzel, made of bread dough, was founded in the 1400s in Northern Italy by monks as a reward for learning their prayers, hence the shape.

Julius Sturgis was a bread baking apprentice in Lititz. The bakery where he worked made pretzels with leftover bread at the end of each day. One day, Julius rolled his dough a little thinner than normal and accidentally left his pretzels in the oven at a low heat. The result was the crunchy, salty snack we all enjoy today.

Here is another fun fact: 80% of pretzels baked in the United States are made within 100 miles of Lititz. Julius created a thriving business in Lancaster County, packing his pretzels into barrels and shipping them as far as his horse-drawn wagons could travel.

For a very nominal fee, you can take a 25-minute tour of the first commercial pretzel bakery in America.. You’ll learn more than you can imagine about baking pretzels, including making your own. There are small museum rooms towards the front of the building, and of course a gift shop with all things “pretzel,” including horse and buggy shaped pretzels and souvenir t-shirts.

Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery
219 East Main Street, Lititz PA