Pretzel Company Celebrates 150th Anniversary With Community Party

Posted: 3:23 PM EDT Aug 17, 2011   Updated: 7:06 AM EDT Jul 29, 2011

A local pretzel company is marking a milestone. Tom Sturgis Pretzels is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and it's doing so by giving back.

Since 1861, the Sturgis family has been baking pretzels. It started in Lititz, Lancaster County, and moved to the Reading area.

"Reading here was known as the pretzel capital of the world," said Bruce Sturgis, the president and treasurer of Tom Sturgis Pretzels.

It was Julius Sturgis who made pretzels in the first American commercial pretzel bakery 150 years ago. Tom Sturgis is Bruce's father.

"My dad is 77," said Bruce Sturgis. "He's working full-time still working on the equipment trying to improve it. He's been in the business over 60 years. That's a lot of pretzel baking knowledge."

Inside the plant, Bruce Sturgis explained how pretzel baking has changed over the years. It's very different from when he first learned the family business from his Great, Great Uncle Louis.

"We still check our pretzels the same way, smell them, break them, taste them to see if they're up to quality," said Sturgis.

Normally, it's hotter inside than outside because of the baking, but that's all been put on hold.

"Today we're concentrating on what's going to happen tomorrow [Saturday]," said Sturgis.

They're planning a 150th anniversary party.

"Tomorrow is our thank you celebration our thank you to the community for supporting us for a long long time," said Sturgis.

And kids will get a chance to twist pretzels like Bruce Sturgis did when he was a kid.

Under tents there will be food, prizes and activities for everyone. The fun starts Saturday at 10 a.m. and goes until 2 p.m.

"There's a sixth generation involved," said Sturgis "My niece Lindsey, she's involved. Actually, she's on leave at the moment because she just had a little girl. We expect her here tomorrow. That could be a seventh generation here at some point."

For the Sturgis family, it's a tradition worth celebrating and continuing.