Pretzel franchises are trending, with new franchise concepts coming into the arena every year. While some pretzel franchise concepts are unsuccessful and do not make the cut, others thrive. It is important for pretzel franchisees to be aware of the leaders in the industry. Knowing where the franchise stands in regards to the top competitors in the industry is smart business and will help franchisees identify ways to improve operations.
With 1132 franchise stores in the United States as of 2014, Auntie Anne’s is the largest pretzel franchise. The franchise was number 37 on the Franchise 500 list for the year. Auntie Anne’s was founded in 1988 by Anne Beiler at a farmer’s market in Downington, Pennsylvania. After the single concession stand became popular, several more were opened within the same year. The company expanded to 50 stores by 1990 and was purchased by Focus Brands in 2010.
Wetzel’s Pretzels was founded in California in 1994 by Bill Phelps and Rick Wetzel. As of 2014, the company had 267 stores in America. The franchise listed number 157 on the Franchise 500 list. After opening, the company enjoyed comfortable growth that exploded in 2001 with the opening of a location in Disneyland.
Pretzelmaker was opened in 1991 as Pretzelvania, but the name was changed shortly after. The company was founded by Jeffrey Trip and had 40 franchise stores running by 1995. In 2010, the company was purchased by Global Franchise Group, who merged Pretzelmaker and its sister store Pretzel Time to a single name and secured a huge market share. As of 2014, Pretzelmaker was number 250 on the Franchise 500 list and had 255 stores operating in the United States.
An up and coming franchise, Philly Pretzel Factory was started by Dan DiZio and Len Lehman in 1998. DiZio was a lifelong pretzel aficionado, selling pretzels from a corner stand in Philadelphia from the age of 11. The company began franchising in 2004, and had 129 franchise locations as of 2014. Philly Pretzel Factory placed number 303 on the Franchise 500 list.
The Alliance, Ohio based We’re Rolling Pretzel Company was opened in 1996 by Kevin Krabill. We’re Rolling Pretzel Company boasts a proprietary pretzel recipe and several out-of-the-ordinary menu items such as Pizza Pretzels. As of 2014, the company operated 21 franchise locations. Franchise locations vary from traditional setting such as amusement parks and malls to non-traditional setting such as Walmart Supercenters.