Happy birthday, Auntie Anne’s! Over the last three decades, foodies everywhere have snacked on the freshly baked and oh-so-soft pretzels created at Auntie Anne’s. What started as a humble pretzel and lemonade stand has since exploded into a beloved franchise with locations at shopping malls and airports in cities across the United States. These pretzels are so popular they even count Oprah Winfrey as one of their biggest fans!
As we celebrate their big 3-0, we have an extra-special treat for our 360 readers. We were able to interview the one, the only, Twistee, the official Auntie Anne’s mascot! He’s got the inside scoop on their birthday celebrations, more about his life as the face representing the famous pretzels, and his top five countdown of the best-ever Auntie Anne’s moments.
AW: Can you share more about the story behind Auntie Anne’s and their famous pretzels with us?
Twistee: “Auntie” Anne Beiler started the company at the Downingtown (Pa.) Farmer’s Market in 1988. What started as a single stand has grown to become the world’s largest soft pretzel franchise, with more than 1,700 locations in more than 25 countries around the world. That first stand sold the same Original Pretzel and lemonade that everyone knows and loves today. As we’ve grown, our menu has expanded to include additional pretzel flavors ranging from Sweet Almost and Cinnamon Sugar to Pepperoni and our Pretzel Dogs.
AW: How will Auntie Anne’s be celebrating their big birthday?
Twistee: With free pretzels, of course! On Saturday March 3rd, we will be giving away one free Original or Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel to every guest at Auntie Anne’s locations across the country from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. No strings attached! This Free Pretzel Party was actually unlocked by our passionate fans. We created a website, HBDAuntieAnnes.com, and encouraged everyone to RSVP to our party. Once we hit one million RSVPs, the Free Pretzel Party was officially on!
AW: Twistee, when did you make your debut with Auntie Anne’s as their official mascot?
Twistee: It’s hard to believe, but I’m a teenager! I made my debut back in 2000. As for my name, when you visit our stores you’ll see that all of our pretzels are made from fresh dough and twisted by our talented crew members all day long. That twisting motion led to my name – Twistee!
AW: If you had to sum them up, what were the top five Auntie Anne’s milestone moments over the last three decades?
Twistee: Number one was my debut back in 2000, obviously!
#2. Our 30th birthday celebration this year definitely makes the list. Beyond our million RSVPs and Free Pretzel Party celebration, we have a lot more fun planned for the rest of the year. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for all of the details!
#3. In 2005, we introduced Pretzel Dogs to our menu. If you haven’t tried one yet, you are missing out! It’s a freshly baked Auntie Anne’s Pretzel wrapped around a Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog. I’m not the only one who loves our Pretzel Dogs – we have a very famous fangetting a lot of publicity this week.
#4. Pretzel Nuggets – bite-sized versions of our pretzels – were introduced in 2010. Today, our nuggets actually outsell our full-sized pretzels. They are portable, convenient, and shareable. And for parties, our Pretzel Nugget Buckets are perfect!
#5. Auntie Anne’s has the best fans. Seriously. Last year, we asked them to pick our next pretzel flavor. A simple request for flavor ideas on social media resulted in more than 1,200 responses. We took the top 10 and created a website where fans could vote for their favorite – we called it Pretzel Nation Creation. After more than 1.3 million votes, Sriracha was declared the champion, beating out the likes of S’mores, Taco, Buffalo Wings, and even Pink Lemonade. The Sriracha Pretzels and Pretzel Nuggets were available in stores last October for a limited time. This was so much fun! I hope we do it again this year!
AW: Will you be attending the big pretzel party celebration on Saturday? If so, where can we find you?
Twistee: I bet you’ll find me at a party or two!
AW: What does the future hold for Auntie Anne’s (and Twistee)?
Twistee: We have so much going on! Our brand continues to grow and evolve. Last year, we launched a national catering platform, allowing people to bring Auntie Anne’s to their meetings and parties. It’s a game changer; who wouldn’t want our pretzels at their gathering? We’re also looking for other ways to bring Pretzels to the People – food trucks and trailers, OnDemand delivery, bringing our ovens to events and baking on-site. We want to be everywhere our fans are! And personally, I’m having a blast. You’ll continue to see me at Auntie Anne’s stores and events around the country. And if I get the invite again (hint hint), I’ll be at the Advertising Week ceremonies in New York this fall.