Inside the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery: America’s original Commercial Pretzel Establishment

Lititz’s Living Pretzel Legacy: The Julius Sturgis Bakery

The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, located in Lititz, Pennsylvania, holds a significant place in American food history as the nation’s first commercial pretzel bakery. Established in 1861, this historic site offers visitors an authentic glimpse into the traditional art of pretzel making and the remarkable story of the Sturgis family’s multi-generational baking legacy.

It all started when Julius Sturgis, at 26 years old, purchased the property at 219 E. Main Street and converted it into a pretzel bakery business. From that point forward, the Sturgis family has continuously operated pretzel bakeries, with Julius’ grandson Marriott Sturgis founding Tom Sturgis Pretzels in Reading, PA in 1946. Today, Tom Sturgis and his son Bruce oversee both the original Julius Sturgis bakery and the Reading location, keeping the family’s pretzel traditions alive.

The building housing the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery itself has origins dating back even further – it was originally constructed in 1784 by Peter Kreiter using stones quarried from the local area and timber from surrounding forests. Architectural details like musket firing windows in the cellar, carved wood accents, heavy wooden doors, and pegged plank floors highlight its historic roots. Due to its historical significance, the bakery earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visitors can take an interactive 25-minute tour to fully experience the bakery’s historical pretzel making process. The tour provides a hands-on pretzel twisting lesson using simple flour and water dough, views of the original ovens built by Julius Sturgis himself, and the chance to observe bakers hand-twisting authentic soft pretzels using traditional methods. After the tour, guests can purchase fresh baked pretzels and other treats in the bakery store.

Preserving Pretzel Tradition: Inside the Historic Julius Sturgis Bakery

Tours run daily, with start times varying based on the day but generally beginning around opening time and the final tour departing a half hour prior to closing. Reservations are recommended regardless of group size due to limited capacities. Admission is $5.50 for adults, $5 for seniors and military, $4.50 for children 4-12, and free for kids 3 and under.

The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery operates Monday-Saturday 10:30am-4:30pm and Sundays 12pm-4pm. It is closed on major holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, as well as for a winter break in early January. Both off-street parking next to the bakery and free street parking are available.

For those interested in discovering an authentic piece of culinary heritage, a visit to the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery offers a truly unique opportunity. As you explore this landmark establishment, you’ll gain insights into the enduring tradition of pretzel baking that has defined the Sturgis family legacy for over 160 years and counting.

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