The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz lays claim to being the first commercial producer of hard pretzels in the US, and possibly in the world. As we were visiting nearby Lancaster, and the surrounding Amish area, I really wanted to make time to drop in here. Though the Sturgis commercial operation has now moved to a larger factory, the original house is open as a small museum of everything pretzel. For just a couple of dollars, the tour not only showed the history of soft and hard pretzels, but gave visitors an opportunity to twist pretzel dough in the traditional way. Our guide was a friendly and knowledgeable young woman who had actually worked in pretzel production, as well as giving an entertaining spiel.
I'd never eaten a soft pretzel before the one I bought in the bakery here, and I was completely won over, and inspired to try baking them myself as soon as we got home. We were also given a small packet of hard pretzels at the end of the tour; not so exciting, we thought, since neither of us much likes the ones we've had in the UK, but these ones were much nicer. (And whoever first thought of chocolate-coating them might just have been a genius.)