Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery: Visit & Tour Details (2023)

Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery sits just outside of Lancaster, PA in a cute and quaint little town of Lititz.

It also just so happens to be the first commercial pretzel bakery in the entire country!

making pretzels with hands
Source: Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery

Of course you’re going to want to visit to try out their delicious pretzels but another huge reason to bring the family is for their tour where you will get to learn about and try your hand at pretzel twisting.

And boy is it fun to do!

The Tour

If you are looking to learn a little history, venture to the quaint town of Lititz, part of Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

Step inside the first commercial hard pretzel bakery in the U.S. and learn firsthand the art of pretzel twisting using traditional methods!

Pretzel Bakery Tour
Source: Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery

I’d recommend that you take the tour, it’s cheap, interesting and quite educational. It’s a standing tour that takes about 30 minutes to finish.

It started off with a brief video presentation about the history of the bakery and the art of pretzel making, and then we were escorted to see the different stages of pretzel making, from mixing and kneading the dough to twisting and baking the pretzels in the oven.

Our tour guide did an amazing job, and she was great with the kids, answering all questions and thoroughly explaining the history.

We ended up having a great time, and ended the tour with a soft pretzel that was just made fresh out of the oven!

What Else You’ll Find

You can find “twisted” t-shirts, pretzels enrobed in Wilbur’s chocolate, and soft pretzels made on the premises.

While there, you can also see See the ground floor of Julius Sturgis’s 1784 home and the addition where the bakery business was born in 1861.

More About The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery

Prior to 1861, all pretzels made were soft pretzels. If pretzels were baked too long, it was considered a mistake and thrown away.

However, since soft pretzels could only stay fresh for two hours before being discarded, Sturgis toyed with the idea of creating a hard pretzel.

The response was overwhelming. Hard pretzels had more flavor, had a longer shelf life, and could be shipped worldwide.

visitors learning about the art of making pretzels at the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery
Source: Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery

The tour last 20 minutes and is good for all ages. The beginning of the tour started with a hands-on lesson in pretzel twisting.

We rolled out the dough, made a U shape, crossed the ends, folded over the dough and voila!

A Little Pretzel History…

Long before Julius Sturgis opened his bakery, pretzels held an interesting past. It is said that the pretzel was created in the year 610 A.D.

Italian monks used leftover bread dough to create pretzels. Fashioned in the shape of children’s arms in prayer, the three holes represent the Holy Trinity.

When children learned their prayers, they received pretzels as a reward.

Each of us made our own pretzel and received a certificate as an official pretzel twister. The downside was that the play dough was inedible.

It’s amazing how physical the job of a pretzel baker and maker was. Working 10 hours a day, six days a week and earning 10 cents an hour was considered good for the year 1861.

The Doughbreak machine was used to knead the dough.

To ease the physical demand, men would sit on the doughbreak riding it 25 times each way. The first conveyor belts were pedaled by bicycles.

Source: Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery

On the tour, you’ll be able to see the original four ovens where the pretzels were baked. The temperature needed to cook the food was 550 degrees. It was so hot that upstairs acted like a second oven measuring 220 degrees.

It was here that the pretzels dried from anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on the humidity. Talk about manual labor – that’s 300,000 pretzels per week!

The Sturgis family still own the bakery, but only soft pretzels are baked here today. Julius’ brother, Tom Sturgis, knew that he needed a bigger space to continue the operation.

Tom opened a factory that continues to manufacture pretzels in Shillington, PA.

Source: Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery

On the tour you will see examples of computer technology that made the production of pretzels with more flair and at a faster pace.

We may never know who exactly invented the pretzel, but I’m glad they did. Pretzels are yummy, low fat, great for dipping, and come in a variety of flavors and shapes.

Next time you are in Lititz, stop into the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery. Ask them why lye was used in pretzel dough. You will be surprised!

Tickets & Pricing

  • There is no charge to visit the store.
  • Admission is $5 for adults (ages 13 and up) and $4 for children ages 4 to 12 and free for kids 3 and under.
  • Tours are offered every 30 minutes and include a complimentary bag of pretzels.

Hours & When to Go

  • The bakery is open daily Saturday to Monday from 10:30am to 4:30pm and Sundays from 12pm to 4pm.
  • These hours are typically during the early months of the year (January to March) and then the hours change to 9:30am to 4:30pm.
  • If you plan on visiting when they open, just make sure to double check the hours before going.

Getting There

Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery is located at 219 E Main St, Lititz, PA 17543.

There is parking available on the left-hand side of the bakery. There is curbside parking in front of and across the street from the bakery as well.

Things to Do Nearby

While you’re in the neighborhood, there are some other fun and worthy stops:

  • The Wilbur Chocolate Museum
  • Cafe Chocolate
  • Lititz Springs Park
  • The Tree House Playgound
  • Lititz Historical Foundation
  • Lititz Rec Center

And of course you can head to nearby Lancaster for lots of fun things to do.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who owns Sturgis Pretzels?

Sturgis Pretzels is a family-owned business. It was founded in the year 1861 by Julius Sturgis, and since then has been operated by the Sturgis family.

Today, the business is owned and operated by Tom and Peggy Sturgis and their son, Bruce.

What is the oldest US commercial pretzel bakery?

The oldest commercial pretzel bakery in the US is believed to be Sturgis Pretzels. The recipe devised by Julius Sturgis is still being used today by his descendants to run the business.

In what state is the oldest US pretzel bakery located?

Sturgis is still the oldest pretzel baking family in America, it is located in the state of Pennsylvania.

Photo of author

Emma Williams

Emma was born and raised in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the state with her 3 kids, husband and Labrador. She loves nature and finding new, fun places to go.