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Pretzels in Reading

Guy Jan 30, 2003 03:21 PM

I remember reading an article in the NY Times, oh, about 25 years ago describing some wonderful small pretzel makers in Reading. I mentally filed it away as something worth checking out some time.

Does anyone know the current pretzel scene in Reading? I particularly remember one place that was described as a house with an ancient brick oven in the back, and the pretzels are sold only a few days a week. Does such a thing exist?

Or maybe I dreamed the whole thing.


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  1. c
    Clem RE: Guy Jan 30, 2003 05:14 PM

    When traveling in Reading (sales) in the late '60's, I too remember the pretzels. However, I do not believe the place is still in existence.
    There are several places (large) in the Amish country that produce pretzels.

    1. j
      JohnnyT RE: Guy Jan 30, 2003 08:22 PM

      I believe Litiz is the place for pretzels. It's in Lancaster County, south of Reading.

      1. a
        AnnaLisa RE: Guy Jan 31, 2003 09:06 PM

        I have a friend who resides in Reading. I have just sent him an email.

        1. b
          Bob RE: Guy Feb 9, 2003 10:14 PM

          The Reading Soft Pretzel Bakery is at Minor Street and Bell Alley in Southwest Reading. It is everything you described and more. Go there just after 11 a.m (M-Sat) to get the last warm batch of the day. These pretzels put Philly soft pretzels to shame.
          While in Reading stop by Johnny and Hon's, a basic neighborhood bar on Kutztown Rd., for great Coney Island burgers and dogs or check out Augie's on Rockland St. for a REAL cheese steak that will make you forget about Pat's and Geno's real fast.

          1. l
            Locustridge RE: Guy Aug 28, 2013 07:17 PM

            Reading Pretzel Bakery is still going strong 8/28/2013. Yum!

            1. Bacchus101 RE: Guy Aug 29, 2013 04:49 AM

              Reading certainly was a major producer of pretzels. A cousin was a resident of a town nearby and had provided cans of very good and fresh local pretzels. There were a few major regional and national brands but I did not know of the small local spots. There is a wonderful small pretzel shop in Litiz offering fresh from the oven treats at various times during the day. A pretzel bakery highly touted and frequently sold out early is
              Shuey's Pretzels
              (717) 272-8332
              702 E Lehman St, Lebanon, PA 17046
              Lines form early on baking days with many leaving with huge bags of freshly baked pretzels.

              1. c
                Chowrin RE: Guy Aug 31, 2013 07:57 AM

                my faves are in Gettysburg and Akron.
                Whatever you do, You want a place that
                does hard pretzels, even if you're looking for soft.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Chowrin
                  sal_acid RE: Chowrin Aug 31, 2013 12:51 PM

                  I see soft pretzels being a Philly thing and hard ones being PA Dutch. Hard>soft to me.

                  1. re: sal_acid
                    Chowrin RE: sal_acid Aug 31, 2013 01:38 PM

                    Soft pretzels from a hard pretzel factory are radically different than normal ones. Or so it seems to me (soft pretzels there being just normal ones, eaten hot/warmish).

                  2. re: Chowrin
                    ahab RE: Chowrin Sep 1, 2013 04:14 PM

                    Second this for both hard and soft pretzels. These are the places you want to be. Stop at Sturgis in Lititz between the two. Akron only has soft pretzels when baking hards. They just pull them out early

                  3. Bacchus101 RE: Guy Sep 2, 2013 04:12 AM

                    Hard - Soft Pretzel Recipe - I was unsure of the difference in these types of Pretzels, other than the obvious. This is what I found is the difference in ingredients and process.

                    1)Hard is the same steps as soft with the exception of"
                    decrease water and add melted butter.

                    2)Make pretzels smaller and bake until browned.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Bacchus101
                      Chowrin RE: Bacchus101 Sep 15, 2013 07:14 AM

                      the "soft" pretzel you're referencing is not a real soft pretzel, as made in Reading and thereabouts. A soft pretzel is merely a hard pretzel eaten hot (and a bit less cooked. not blackened please).

                      1. re: Chowrin
                        Bacchus101 RE: Chowrin Sep 16, 2013 05:58 AM

                        Thanks for your opinion. I'll go with the definition provided by a pretzel manufacturer.

                        1. re: Bacchus101
                          Chowrin RE: Bacchus101 Sep 16, 2013 06:11 AM

                          Why, you're welcome!
                          You might start by going to the Gettysburg Pretzel Factory, if you're interested in a competent manufacturer's opinion.

                          Or, you could try asking Pretzel-Man...

                          1. re: Chowrin
                            Bacchus101 RE: Chowrin Sep 16, 2013 10:03 AM

                            While I am not sure a Gettysburg Pretzel Factory would be the definitive source of this information; you just go with it. All my information say; When cooking hard pretzels, you use less water, which you replace with melted butter. You also make the pretzels slightly smaller and bake them until they are browned where as soft are usually baked for 4 minutes. The ingredients with the exception of butter and less water in the hard pretzels are the same. Facts not opinions!

                            1. re: Bacchus101
                              Chowrin RE: Bacchus101 Sep 16, 2013 01:28 PM

                              Cite links?

                              1. re: Chowrin
                                Bacchus101 RE: Chowrin Nov 29, 2013 05:00 AM

                                Fire up your search engine of choice for links.

                                SOFT PRETZELS:
                                Dissolve yeast in water, add salt and sugar.
                                Blend in all the flour and knead until smooth.
                                When smooth, cut dough into small pieces and roll into ropes. Twist ropes into conventional pretzel shapes and place on a paper-lined cookie sheet.
                                Brush pretzels with beaten egg, sprinkle with coarse salt.
                                Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until brown. These do not keep long.
                                HARD PRETZELS:
                                Do everthing above, but decrease water to 1-1/4 cups and add 1/4 cup of melted butter.
                                Make pretzels smaller and bake until browned.
                                These pretzels will stay good for months in a tight container.

                                1. re: Bacchus101
                                  Chowrin RE: Bacchus101 Nov 29, 2013 07:06 AM


                                  Facts, not opinions. Indeed.

                                  Want some cites from Germany too? ;-P

                                  Rold Gold is NOT the standard for PA pretzels.

                                  1. re: Chowrin
                                    Bacchus101 RE: Chowrin Nov 29, 2013 11:08 AM

                                    Thanks for the websites, interestingly none compare the soft to hard and discuss the differences. Differences which were illustrated in the recipe I forwarded. Roll Gold? They do not make soft pretzel? Your googles prove nothing and are not relative to the subject. But hey, have it your way. This is a long road to a small house, not worth the effort.

                                    1. re: Bacchus101
                                      Chowrin RE: Bacchus101 Nov 29, 2013 11:47 AM

                                      They aren't going to discuss things that don't exist:
                                      That's for soft pretzels. Sameish recipe. No egg, no butter, yes to lye or sodawater.

                                      I was trying to point out that what you're pulling up is like looking at Yankee corncake, and trying to call it ranch-style cornbread.

                                      1. re: Bacchus101
                                        Chowrin RE: Bacchus101 Nov 29, 2013 12:12 PM

                                        Getting Geeky Here: ;-)
                                        Rold Gold, you should be able to find it in your local supermarket... (I can way out here in Pittsburgh).

                      2. e
                        expresso166 RE: Guy Sep 12, 2013 01:58 PM

                        the reading pretzel scene is definitley alive and well. I would check out the locations mentioned on earlier posts as well as Unique pretzels, Bachman's pretzels, and even better - checking out the farmer's market for fresh baked mennonite pretzels. Yummm...

                        1. e
                          expresso166 RE: Guy Sep 13, 2013 06:41 AM

                          Update - First annual pretzel festival will be held in Reading pa at the First Energy Stadium (home of the Reading Phils) this upcoming Saturday, September 28th. There are a bunch of great local vendors participating.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: expresso166
                            Bacchus101 RE: expresso166 Nov 29, 2013 11:12 AM

                            Had you been to the Festival? Sounds like a great Idea as Reading is/was the Pretzel Capital of the US.

                            1. re: expresso166
                              Bacchus101 RE: expresso166 Nov 29, 2013 01:08 PM

                              Got the story of the fest from the web. They made the natural connection of beer and pretzels, a great time was had by all and the 2nd annual is planned for next year. I will mark my calendar and be sure to be there. Thanks for the tip, exxpresso166.

                            2. g
                              Guy RE: Guy Dec 4, 2013 05:39 PM

                              Amazing that this thread has resurfaced after 10 years!

                              I did in fact visit the Soft Pretzel bakery a couple of times over the years. It is a wonderful place.

                              Now of course through the miracle of Facebook everyone can see (and practically taste) the magic:


                              I think it's about time for another visit...


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Guy
                                Bacchus101 RE: Guy Dec 5, 2013 05:24 AM

                                Thanks for the link. First I have heard of Bell Alley Pretzels. From the pictures it has a "speak easy" look to it. Does one need a password to buy pretzels? What fun, thanks. Don't get thru Reading often but I will make a reasonable detour to give this place a try!

                              2. g
                                Guy RE: Guy Dec 4, 2013 06:05 PM

                                It gets even better, this 18 minute documentary is a "must see":


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Guy
                                  Bacchus101 RE: Guy Dec 5, 2013 05:42 AM

                                  Great documentary! Now I have to find a reason to get to that area. Well actually Bell Alley Pretzels could be a reason in its self!

                                  It would be great if the guy who started the Pretzel Festival could be sure to include Bell Alley at the next event! You know him? Send him an email maybe?

                                2. RC51Mike RE: Guy Dec 5, 2013 10:40 AM

                                  I lived and worked in Reading in the early '80's and it still looks the same. Often one of us from the office would drive down first thing in the morning, park in the alley and come out with a bag full right out of the oven. We'd have them for breakfast.

                                  1. monavano RE: Guy Dec 5, 2013 10:51 AM

                                    I enjoy Reading's Pretzel "Splits" when I come across them.

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