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Sturgis Pretzels and Ice Cream

A story by Jean McGavin

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I am already getting hungry just thinking about writing this.


My parents both grew up in Pennsylvania, in Pennsylvania Dutch country. The local treat was ice cream with a big pretzel on the side and this was how ice cream was served at their local shops. Story has it that my parents shared this treat on their first date and I suppose that event cemented pretzels and ice cream as a sentimental staple in our household. For years, for as many years as was possible, we had only one brand of pretzels in our home - Victor Brand Sturgis Pretzels. The competition was from the Tom Sturgis Pretzel Company. Tom and Victor were both descendants of Julius Sturgis who founded the first commercial pretzel bakery in America in 1861.


The original Julius Sturgis Bakery building still exists in Lititz, PA and is on the U.S. National List of Historic Places. Several descendants of Julius Sturgis founded their own pretzel bakeries in Reading, PA, and for a time, Tom and Victor Sturgis shared a bakery but then split and formed their own companies. My parents and their families complained always bought Victor Sturgis Pretzels. Whenever they went home to Pennsylvania, they would stop at the Victor Sturgis Pretzel factory and buy an enormous tin of pretzels. These tins held 5 pounds of pretzels. The cans were a little shorter than a piano stool. The cans were tan with red letters that said, Always ask for Victor Brand Sturgis Pretzels and we always did. Then, for some reason, the Victor Sturgis factory closed, perhaps in the 1960s and we shifted to Tom Sturgis pretzels. Tom Sturgis’ pretzels were better than any other pretzels and every pretzel is perfect! Tom Sturgis sells pretzels in cans as well, at their own factory store, and in my mothers’ later years she ordered each of her 7 children a can for Christmas.