Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pretzels, Chocolate, and Chocolate Covered Pretzels

(Adamstown, PA) Hi 95 Lo 75 – We’re under a heat advisory for the next couple of days. I guess the only place to be cool is in the mountain west. We’ll be back in that area next year.

One of the great things about writing our blog is getting ideas from our readers on where to go and what to see when you’re in their area. We got the following email from one of our readers, Jill Thomas:

“Make sure while you are in that area to find some Tom Sturgis Pretzels, made in Shillington, PA, but sold in many of the area stores. That is my family's business. Also it's fun to tour the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery and Museum in Lititz, PA. It was the first commercial pretzel bakery in America, opened in 1861. They will teach you how and you will twist your own pretzel in there. (Julius was my great great grandfather.) If you go there, the Wilbur Chocolate Factory and Museum is just blocks away too.”

Pretzels and chocolate... two of our favorite things! We left about 12:30 for Lititz, about 15 miles away, to visit the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery. It's a neat story about how the bakery was started. Julius Sturgis worked in a bread bakery and was in charge of baking pretzels, which up to that time were soft pretzels. He mistakenly left some already baked pretzels in the oven overnight, and when he fired up the oven the next morning when he got to work the pretzels baked for a second time. They turned hard and crispy.  He liked their texture and taste, but couldn't convince his employer to market them. So he quit and started his own business, the first commercial pretzel bakery in the country. That was in 1861, the year the Civil War started. He supplied hard pretzels to Union troops during the war. That's how the hard pretzel was created!

As part of the tour we learned how to twist our own pretzel. (Click on photos to enlarge them.)
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We started with a small ball of dough, which we rolled out to the correct length.
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We then learned to twist it into the familiar pretzel shape. And we got an official certificate for our efforts. (Oooooh!)
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The company's product is made at a modern plant in a nearby city, but we got to see some of the original equipment used to make the pretzels when this was an active bakery.
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One of the four original ovens.
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The pretzels were put into these trays to cool.
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The plaque on the outside of the building.
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Jim enjoying a soft pretzel and a drink.
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After buying a couple bags of their specialty pretzels (Jim got jalapeno and I got the cheese pretzels), we headed to the Wilbur Chocolate Company, just a few blocks down the road and around the corner in Lititz.
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Wilbur Chocolate Co. started back in the 1800's in Philadelphia. We could smell the chocolate when we got near the large brick building. It's your standard chocolate store, with a few exhibits of old chocolate making equipment.

Some molds that were used in the earlier years.
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Different boxes of cocoa.
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Utensils used in the earlier years.
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There’s all kinds of chocolate items to buy. It smelled so good!!
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We talked with Kathy, a chocolate 'artisan' who was making a set piece for the Lititz Chocolate Walk, which will be held in October. The house you see is part of her work based on The Old Lady Who Lived In a Shoe. The house will be on top of the shoe. It was very detailed.

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The little slices of dark chocolate will be used for the tiled roof of the house. She’ll add lights and little children in the windows when it’s done.

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We bought some chocolate covered pretzels, then came back home and stayed cool.

Tonight we'll say goodbye to Jon and Kathleen. But it's more like 'see you later' as we'll see them in about four months in Florida for the winter. Tomorrow we're leaving for Delaware, a new state for Tumbleweed. Our hitch itch is about to be scratched!


Dizzy-Dick said...

All I can say is "yum, yum".

Gypsy said...

I can't think of two better places to visit than a pretzel factory and a chocolate factory. My mom used to break pretzels on a plate and then pour melted white chocolate over them. Delicious!

Unknown said...

I'm glad you got to see those two wonderful places in Lititz! By the way, Tom Sturgis, who signed your certificate, is my Dad. I learned to twist my first pretzel at that very table back when I was about 4. Lotta family history for me there!

Bill and Nancy said...

Lititz is one of my favorite cities in the PA Amish County. Such a pretty town and they have chocolate and pretzel stores to boot:o))

Jim and Sandie said...

Oh man - chocolate and pretzels. Talk about food heaven.

Tom and Marci said...

YUM! Great tip from Jill!

Paul and Marti Dahl said...

Chocolate covered pretzels! A deadly combination. ;c)

Gail Houle said...

2 off my very favorite places! We stocked up big time last month ;)

The Ramblin RiverCat said...

Love doing tours! I hope to get to a chocolate factory and perhaps a cigar factory while here in Vegas