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Don’t misinterpret: Chocolate may have landed on the map in Hersheypark, but the sprawling theme park in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania offers some of the best soft pretzels you can find. And, as a nod to the origins of pretzels just a few miles away, these hand-woven treats are made using a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch recipe, with a buttery flavor in every pillow bite.

Pretzels originally arrived in the United States with European settlers carving out a new life in Pennsylvania, but it was Julius Sturgis who made this carbohydrate-rich snack widely known. The passionate entrepreneur founded the first commercial pretzel bakery in the United States in 1861 in Lititz, Pennsylvania. The family-owned and operated business is still in operation today, welcoming guests to tour the historic factory, make their own pretzels and enjoy freshly baked, soft pretzels on site.

“Five generations of the Sturgis family have worked in the industry and are still going strong,” Kurt Van Gilden, general manager of Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, told Yahoo Lifestyle. “The building is full of history, and so are the pretzels. Traditions don’t often stay alive in this ever-changing world, but the tradition and history of Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery is alive and well.”

These values are also at the heart of Hersheypark, a central Pennsylvania theme park that first opened in 1906 and is the brainchild of chocolate magnate Milton Hershey, who redefined what a factory town could and should be. Dubbed “the sweetest place on earth,” the family-friendly park now boasts dozens of attractions, including some of the best roller coasters in the country, but they haven’t forgotten their humble roots.

While you can find theme park staples like hot dogs and burgers inside the park, local food culture is also incorporated into the menu throughout the hotel. In addition to soft pretzels, the park’s Makin’ Whoopie Pies bakery produces whoopie pies, which were invented in the early 1900s in nearby Amish country. This sweet treat offers customizable and tailored next-level versions with creative flavors like red velvet and confetti.

“When people visit Hershey Park, we want to showcase not only the best chocolate, both savory and sweet, but also Central Pennsylvania – where Milton Hershey chose to build his factory and community because of its beautiful location and agricultural roots,” said Quinn Bryner director of public relations for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, Inc. “Many of our dining venues try to honor the cultural heritage of Central Pennsylvania, from the use of 100 percent local dairy products in Milton’s [to serving] hand-rolled pretzels and Whoopie Pies with ice cream in the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition and comfort food from the German and Polish immigrants who originally settled in Pennsylvania. recipes. Farm-to-table life is very much alive in Hershey Park.”

Soft pretzels were first introduced as a snack in 1998 inside Hersheypark Arena, just steps away from the park. After four years of rapidly growing sales, the pretzels made their debut at Hersheypark in 2002. Now, two twist offerings exist at the theme park, the Pretzel House food kiosk and Milton’s Ice Cream Parlor, part of the park’s recent $150 million expansion of Chocolate City.

Impressively, each pretzel sold at Hersheypark is handmade, made from small batches of dough and six simple ingredients: all-purpose flour, bread flour, brown sugar, white sugar, salt and butter.

As a theme park food lover who frequents Hersheypark, I prefer the classic original pretzel because of its buttery flavor. Nonetheless, the tasty treats come in a variety of flavors, such as jalapeño, cinnamon raisin and chocolate chip. They are also available with dipping sauces such as sweet mustard or vanilla icing. And, different versions of pretzels can now be found throughout the hotel, such as pretzel deli boards and Bavarian-style pretzels with beer cheese and hot fudge.

Even with the wide variety of pretzels on offer, the traditional version of Hersheypark’s soft pretzel remains popular: In the 2021 season alone, Hersheypark sold more than 150,000 hand-twisted pretzels at the door.

Ready to knead, roll and twist? Yahoo Lifestyle consulted with a leading pretzel l baker who prefers to remain anonymous to develop a recipe for making soft pretzels at home that mimics the pretzels found at Hersheypark.

Cottage Hershey Park Soft Pretzel Recipe
Yields 10 pretzels

1.75 cups bread flour

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/8 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons yeast

2 cups warm water

Mix together 1/4 cup baking soda and 3 1/2 cups water, respectively


  1. Start with warm water (100-110 degrees is ideal) and yeast and mix in a mixing bowl. Allow the yeast to activate for a minute or two.
  2. Add all other ingredients and, using a dough hook, mix until a dough forms. This will take about five minutes. If your dough is too sticky, add a small amount of additional all-purpose flour. If it is too dry, add a small amount of additional water. 3.
  3. Remove the ball of dough and place it in a bowl lightly greased with cooking spray and covered with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to ferment (rise) for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Using a pizza cutter wheel, cut off the “rope” of dough. This rope should be about 1/10th of the size of the initial ball of dough. consider making 10 equal sized pretzels from the ball of dough. 5.

Roll this dough back and forth with both hands to expand and stretch the rope. Your goal should be to have a finished rope that is 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter and 32 inches long.

  1. Twist the rope into a pretzel shape.
  2. Quickly dip the pretzels into the baking soda and water mixture and place them on the bottom of a pan fitted with a silicone baking sheet.
  3. At this point you may decide to let your pretzels prove a little longer.
  4. Commercially baked pretzels are usually cooked at much higher temperatures than can be reached in a home oven. For home recipes, bake pretzels at 450 F for 6 minutes, rotating once during baking.

Remove the pretzels from the oven and brush with butter. If desired, sprinkle cinnamon sugar or pretzels on top. Suggested additions to the dough: raisins, jalapeños, chocolate chips, garlic salt.


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