12 Facts About Auntie Anne's Pretzels

23kelly, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
23kelly, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The buttery, hand-rolled soft pretzels at Auntie Anne's are a food-court favorite, but here are some not-so-well-known facts about the pretzel chain, which has been around since 1988.

1. AUNTIE ANNE WAS NOT A GERMAN BAKER, REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE INTERNET SAYS.

Robyn Lee, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There’s a rumor floating around that Auntie Anne’s name is Anne Gerschwitz and that she was a renowned baker in Hannover, Germany, who fled to Philadelphia after World War II started. This is not true.

2. THE REAL AUNTIE ANNE WAS BORN INTO AN AMISH FAMILY.

"Like, horse-and-buggy Amish," Anne Beiler said of her parents. When she was 3, her family became Amish Mennonite—meaning they could have a car and electricity for basic needs—and she grew up on a small farm with her seven brothers and sisters in Lancaster County, Penn.

3. ANNE ONLY HAD AN 8TH GRADE EDUCATION.

"In the Amish culture, you go through 8th grade and then you quit school," Anne explained last year. "I just wanted to get married and have a family like my mom and dad did." She married at age 19, and much later, at 50, she went back and got her GED.

4. SHE HAD JUST $25 TO HER NAME WHEN SHE MOVED BACK TO PENNSYLVANIA.

According to her biography, Beiler, her husband Jonas, and her two daughters had no plan for when they moved from Texas—which they'd called home since early in their marriage—back to Pennsylvania in 1987. "Everything we owned was in that truck!" she wrote in Twist of Faith. "I was 39 years old, without life insurance policies or a plan for retirement. In the way of cash, after taking out the money we would need for gas and meals on our journey, we had an astronomical $25 left."

5. THE NAME AUNTIE ANNE'S WAS A NO-BRAINER.

Anne had 30 nieces and nephews, after all.

6. AUNTIE ANNE'S WAS STARTED WITH A $6000 INVESTMENT.

In 1988, Anne bought a storefront at a farmer’s market in Downingtown, Penn., that had been selling pretzels and ice cream. The set-up with the ovens and mixers was there; she just needed to perfect the recipe.

7. THE FIRST "TRAVEL LOCATION" WAS IN ANOTHER "PENN."

While you’ve probably visited an Auntie Anne’s at travel hubs like airport terminals and train stations, the first storefront at a train station was at New York’s Penn Station in June 1995. The next month, they went international, starting with Jakarta, Indonesia.

8. SHAQ IS A BIG FAN.

The former NBA all-star’s franchise group, O’Neal Enterprises, signed on for multiple storefronts in Buffalo, N.Y., and the Detroit area.

9. THE BEILERS RETIRED FROM THE PRETZEL BUSINESS TO BUILD A COMMUNITY COUNSELING CENTER.

Anne and Jonas Beiler, YouTube

In 2005, Anne and Jonas sold the company to his second cousin, Sam Beiler (who was a long-time employee), and used some of their fortune to build a new home for the Family Resource and Counseling Center in Lancaster, Penn., which Jonas had founded in 1992.

10. ODDLY, THE RELIGIOUS BEILERS DID NOT ADD THE HALO TO THE AUNTIE ANNE'S LOGO.

Anne and Jonas Beiler were both raised Mennonite, and in her book Twist of Faith, Anne talks about how God helped her through a family tragedy and helped her build Auntie Anne’s. But the halo over the pretzel in the company’s logo was introduced in 2006 after Sam Beiler initiated a redesign and rebranding.

11. THERE ARE WAY MORE TOPPING OPTIONS THAT CINNAMON AND SUGAR.

One of the most popular pretzels Auntie Anne’s sells in Singapore is seaweed-flavored. The Saudi Arabia location comes with dates, and the U.K. offers a banana pretzel.

12. AUNTIE ANNE'S HAS PRETZEL-MAKING CONTESTS AT THEIR CONVENTIONS.

And their employees are fast! This defending champion can roll a pretzel in 3.5 seconds.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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5 Ingenious Tricks for Saving Burnt Cookies

"Please bake our brethren on the middle rack next time."
"Please bake our brethren on the middle rack next time."
cnicbc/iStock via Getty Images

It doesn’t take long for cookies to go from an irresistible golden brown to a dispiriting black (especially if you're baking at a high altitude). But before you toss them in the trash and start rummaging around in your pantry for a store-bought snack, we have a few suggestions for saving that imperfect batch.

1. Grate off the burnt bits of cookie with a zester or cheese grater.

As PureWow explains, all you have to do is slide the cookie along your cheese grater to get rid of the burnt layer on the bottom. The smaller the holes, the better, so a lemon zester works well for this, too.

2. Scrape the burned part of the cookie off with a knife.

If you don’t have a cheese grater, you can get the same results with a regular knife—it just might take you an extra minute or two. Instead of slicing off the entire bottom of the cookie, hold your knife blade perpendicular to the bottom of the cookie and carefully scrape away the burnt crumbs.

3. Store the burned cookies in a jar with a piece of bread.

Even after you’ve shaved off the blackened evidence of your culinary blunder, your cookies might still be crispier than you’d prefer. Store them in an airtight container with a slice of bread—they’ll soak up the moisture and soften right up.

4. Make ice cream sandwiches with your burned cookies.

Snobby snackers won’t scoff at your grated cookies if they can’t even see the bottoms. Slather one with a nice, thick layer of ice cream, slap another one on top, and roll the edges in your favorite topping for a treat that’s better than any cookie—burnt or not.

5. Transform your burned cookies into a cookie crust.

For charred, crunchy cookies that seem beyond salvation, you can completely cut off the burnt bottoms, crush the remains, and turn them into a cookie crust for a pie or cheesecake. Here’s a simple recipe from the Pioneer Woman that calls for three ingredients: cookie crumbs, butter, and sugar.