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SUMMER / FALL 2019      © 2021 812 Magazine

A twistin' experience

Tell City Pretzels offers great snacks and tours of the factory

Would you like your pretzel with extra salt, light salt, bald, burnt or broken?

On a residential street in Tell City, passers-by watch these regional favorites being made through a screened window. Ashley Reed, office administrator of Tell City Pretzels, warmly invites you to tour the factory that still uses machinery from the 1950s.

As you watch, three pretzel-makers craft the delicacies from beginning to end while Reed explains what happens at each station. Once the dough is mixed, they twist the pretzels and apply a special salt water mix to give them a golden look when baked. Then the pretzels are salted according to preference and put in ovens to bake. How long? "That's a secret," Reed says. After the pretzels have cooled, they're boxed and shipped around the country.

The tour includes an opportunity to twist the pretzels with the antique machinery and ends at the storefront, where you can sample some pretzels right away or buy some for later.

Tell City Pretzels opened as a bakery in 1858, but when new owners bought the business, the focus became pretzels.

"The Kessler family made pretzels until 1950, maybe 1960, and they're the ones who really made them famous," current owner Brad Smith says.The shop had several other owners before Smith bought the company in 2009 when his wife, who had grown up with Tell City Pretzels, found out it was for sale. They were intrigued. "This is something we might want to do," Smith recalls thinking.


They started by turning back the clock.  “In the 1940s they got a machine that twisted the pretzels for them, and they said that sales went down,” Reed says. “The pretzels didn’t taste near as good if they weren’t hand twisted.”

Going back to hand-twisting increased sales, he said, and since has been a constant for Tell City Pretzels.

The company now sells thousands of pretzels a day, according to Smith. Some are bought online and shipped across the country. Many are sold through their distributors, including Tuesday Morning. Either way, every single one is hand twisted in Tell City.

Reed says Tell City gets a call or email at least once a day about how great the pretzels are.

Smith loves the comments he gets at his job. "A guy wanted me to sign a tin that he was buying for his father because I was 'The Pretzel Guy.'"

Tell City Pretzels Coming Right Up!

A Few Store Locations

Tell City Pretzels

1315 Washington St., Tell City

Phone: (812) 548-4499

A & D Distributors of Evansville, Inc

2460 Eastside Park Road, Evansville

Phone: 812.473.0071

Krodel Wholesale, Inc

1250 Wernsing Road, Jasper

Phone: (812) 482-3995

Holiday Foods (Santa Claus)

5 N. Kringle Place, Santa Claus

Phone: (812) 937-4309

Chocolate Bliss

609 Main St., Jasper

Phone: (812) 482-1617

Newburgh Country Store

224 W. Jennings St., Newburgh

Phone: (812) 853-3071

Clabber Girl Bake Shop

900 Wabash Ave.,Terre Haute

Phone: (812) 232-9446 ‎

Or order them at Tell City’s website at tellcitypretzel.com and get them delivered. 


Flavored Tell City Pretzel pieces (12oz) are $5.25 (flavors include Honey Mustard, Ranch, Cajun, Garlic, Buffalo, Honey Barbecue, Cinnamon & Sugar and Cheddar)

Pretzel Stix (12oz) are $5.25

Tell City Pretzel (12oz) are $5.25 (choose classic salt, extra salt, light salt, bald [no salt] or burnt)

One-pound gift Tin is $18.43