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A piece of Bavaria in the U.S.A.

How an American couple brought the Bavarian pretzel to the U.S.A.

The Milwaukee Pretzel Company was founded in 2013 and is since then producing pretzels “Bavarian style’’ in the probably most German city in America: Milwaukee. Their pretzels differ from the pretzel style most Americans prefer: The soft pretzel. For their products, they use a German line: The MULTITWIST. How did Katie & Matt Wessel, the founders of the Milwaukee Pretzel Company, come up with the idea to compete with the popular soft pretzel? and what is the difference between the Bavarian and the American style?

To answer these questions, we asked Katie Wessel all about selling Bavarian pretzels in the USA.

How did you come up with the idea to produce and sell Bavarian pretzels in America?

The idea came to us while we were living in Germany for a year. We were there for a previous job of mine and spent a lot of our free time visiting different beer gardens which of course meant we were eating a lot of pretzels! We realized there really wasn't a Bavarian style soft pretzel in our hometown of Milwaukee so when we got home we got to baking and ten years later here we are.

What is the difference between the classic American pretzel and the Bavarian pretzel that you’re selling?

The biggest difference is the increased use of sugar. American style soft pretzels tend to have a fair amount of sugar in their recipes and are topped with quite a bit of salt. So, the American pretzel can taste more sweet. Bavarian pretzels don't use sugar as and don't rely on a thick coating of salt to be the primary flavors. We use flavors such as malt, rye and butter to bring out richer and more traditional flavors that you can taste instantly when you take a bite. We also use food grade lye compared to baking soda which does give our pretzels a deeper pretzel tang and a nuttier brown color than you get using baking soda.

What is the consumer’s general reception of your pretzel style?

The coolest thing to us is when we have someone say "I'm from Germany and this is the best pretzel I've had outside of my home country." That lets us know we are doing right by our German heritage but also creating something unique to Milwaukee and that's been really special for us. Customers are also appreciative of the fact that we don't use preservatives, artificial colors, flavors or ingredients. It's a high-quality pretzel that they can feel good about consuming. Our label is very easy to read and we are proud of that.

How did you have to adapt the pretzel style for the American market?

Not so much with the recipe but more the shape. Our shape is more typically "American" than Bavarian. Slightly rounder with the arms facing more down as opposed to across. We also don't split our pretzel bellies which is also a more common Bavarian pretzel element.

What kind of special pretzels do you produce?

We offer anything from bites, buns and our famous 1 LB Bavarian Beast twist as our "everyday offerings." For the holidays we have a 1LB hand-braided pretzel wreath, hearts for Valentine's Day and a 1LB Shamrock for St. Patrick's Day. That one has been extremely popular. We try and introduce fun shapes and designs as our production capacity allows. Customers have loved the special shapes and we ship them all 50 states. We get a huge kick out of knowing our pretzels are being enjoyed in Hawaii. 

Milwaukee is a city with German roots. Do you think this is why your concept works in the region? 

Absolutely. Milwaukee is known for their beer gardens and with beer gardens comes pretzels so that gave us a very solid cultural foundation along with several well-established German restaurants who brought us on and helped us grow. Milwaukee also hosts a German Fest each year which brings in about 80,000 visitors over a weekend to celebrate all things German and we have enjoyed selling our pretzels there for ten years.

Are there any special plans for the future of your company?

Our vision statement for Milwaukee pretzel is "a complete redefinition of what a soft pretzel should be and a universal understanding that the very best come from Milwaukee." redefine We are excited to continue to grow our footprint, add more lines in our factory and expand our facility to help achieve this vision with our amazing team.

„A complete redefinition of what a soft pretzel should be and a universal understanding that the very best come from Milwaukee“

, says Katie Wessel, when asked what the future of the company will look like.

A piece of Bavaria in the U.S.A.

The innovative pretzel machine

The MULTITWIST can not only produce pretzels in all sizes and shapes, but also braids, knots, rings and much more. The MULTITWIST exemplifies the innovative strength of FRITSCH. Its impressive success story is characterized by inventiveness, conviction and passion.

The Milwaukee Pretzel Company

Katie & Matt Wessel founded the “Milwaukee pretzel company” in 2013 after a year living in Germany. They are now supplying every state of the USA with their Bavarian style pretzels that differ from the classic American soft pretzel style. Customers can buy the pretzels at various events or frozen in an increasing number of stores as well as online for themselves to bake at home!

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