Dot's Pretzels In The News

THE BARK

by Billi Jo Eriksmoen

Mouse River Journal

----I will eat them here or there----

     No thank you. I don't like pretzels. I've probably said that statement many times in my life. And I don't. I do not care for pretzels at all. I don't even like them covered in chocolate or almond bark - and I typically love anything covered in chocolate. Just not pretzels. I used to buy a lot of bags of Chex Mix for snacking on at the office. Half of what was in them would be pretzels. I would always throw the pretzels out, until one day when my co-worker at the time, Kristy, said "I like pretzels! Give them to me." So then every time I'd get a bag of Chex Mix, I'd pick out all the pretzels for her. Once I accidentally got a piece of cereal in with the pretzels and she teased me about throwing out "the good stuff". After that, I'd occasionally let a couple of real pieces, or nuts slide through, something special for her to go with the yucky pretzels. This past summer, on one of my trips to Mouse River Park, I was sitting at Sug's mom's (Debbie) table, and she said to me "There's some pretzels there, if you would like a snack." I informed her that I, in no way, shape, or form were interested in eating a pretzel. Maybe if it were the last thing in the house and I hadn't eaten all day. But otherwise, no thank you. Debbie looked at me like I lost my mind. She said "but these are the best pretzels ever made. They are so awesome. You have to try them." Awesome? Pretzels? I don't think so. And what do Canadians know about pretzels anyway? Have they cornered the market on pretzels and actually created one that was palatable? I seriously doubted it. I do like to pretend I'm nice sometimes, so I looked at the bag of pretzels and contemplated trying one just to appease her. Then I saw it. There, underneath the name was the address of the business and it was listed as "Velva, ND". I said to Debbie "These are made in my county. How did you get them?" She informed me that she bought them and they are available lots of places. It suddenly became my responsibility as a citizen of McHenry County, to try one of these pretzels. Not that I would say anything bad if I didn't like them, but I need to be able to say that I did, in fact, try them. Most people are familiar with the Dr. Seuss book "Green Eggs and Ham". You know how in the book Sam-I-Am tries to convince Daniel to try some green eggs and ham, and asking Daniel if he'd eat them numerous ways and places, and he responds that he will not. And then he does. And he likes them! I kind of felt like that my first time trying Dot's Homestyle Pretzels. I did not want to try them at first, but after I did, I would eat them anywhere. There's just a flavor to them that is - for lack of a better word - addictive. Oh, I could have said tasty, delicious, yummy, etc. I think addictive works quite nicely, as well. I'd never noticed Dot's anywhere. After I tried them at Mouse River Park, I started noticing them all over the place. I imagine that can only be explained by the fact that I don't like pretzels, and so I never bother to notice them when I'm shopping for food or snacks. Well I definitely notice them now, and I will certainly be buying them again and again. It was such a pleasure to get to see the place where they are made, meet the creator, Dot, and eat some amazing pretzels. Thank you to Dot for being so hospitable.

Dot Henke Serves Up The Pretzels You Will Crave

Delicious new products on the horizon for Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels

By Billi Jo Eriksmoen Of the Mouse River Journal

     In 2012, a relative's request for homemade pretzels to give as gifts became the starting point for what has turned into a thriving business for Dot Henke. Dot Henke hails from Wahpeton, ND. She and Mr. Dot, her husband Randy, have three grown children Stacey, Blake, and Eric, and one grandchild, Tianna.  After 30 years in the finance business, Dot and and her husband purchased a house in Arizona, where she was when the concept of Dot's Pretzels came about. "My husband's cousin's wife had asked me if I would make some batches of pretzels for her to give out as Christmas presents," says Dot. "After that she said that they really were pretty good and that we should package and sell them." Dot started out selling small bags of her pretzels at flag football games in Arizona to see how people would like them. The response was very positive.  "The food service laws in Arizona and North Dakota are very different," Dot said. "In Arizona, you are allowed to have a commercial kitchen in your home and sell the things you make in your kitchen to the public. They encourage people finding ways to make a little extra money." Dot registered her kitchen, and started marketing her homestyle pretzels. As the popularity of her pretzels grew, Dot began looking for a place in North Dakota where she could set up shop to start producing them fast enough to keep up with demand. She found an old automotive building in Velva that was available.  While she was remodeling the building to house her pretzels, Shawn Vedaa from Velva Fresh Foods, allowed her to use the commercial kitchen in the grocery store. "Shawn said I could come in after they were done with all their baking for the day," says Dot. "I would haul in all my stuff, and haul it back out again when I was finished. The kitchen isn't all that big, so it's amazing everything they get accomplished in there." She says she has received support from numerous places since beginning this venture. "The people and businesses in Velva have supported me big time since day one. Pride of Dakota as well has been huge source of support. I contacted them a lot in the beginning and used the resources they had available." Dot's Pretzels receives the raw product from a company in Indiana. They are then seasoned with her secret blend of spices, baked, and repackaged for sale.  Dot uses a home office to process internet and phone call orders for pretzels, and leaves day to day onsite operations in the capable hands of her general manager, Debbie Feller.  Currently Dot's Homestyle Pretzels employs 15 employees at their plant, which produces 3000 pounds a day of pretzels for distribution. The pretzels are sold in 22 different states, and even shipped to armed services troops stationed around the world. "When we get an internet order in from the troops, I always send extra with their order," says Dot. Besides the ever growing popularity of Dot's Homestyle Pretzels to keep them busy, new plans are coming up for the business as well. Recently, Lesli Getzlaff and Sharon Brauer owners of Mikey's Country Candy, in Burlington, started using Dot's Pretzels in two of their chocolate bars. The sisters also own The Wife's Kitchen food truck and were doing a show behind the mall for Scheel's. Mr. Dot approached them and told them that they had his favorite chocolate. He also mentioned that they had a lot of broken pretzel pieces and asked if they could come up with something to do with them. "I came back to the kitchen and started with a few different versions and had Dot try them," says Lesli. "We kept trying them until we were both happy with the flavor." The result of the union is a white chocolate pretzel bar and a milk chocolate pretzel bar with toffee. Both candy bars are for sale on the Mikey's Country Candy website and at local vendors.  Dot is going to be using her broken pretzel bits in another new way as well. "We will be grinding them up and using them to make a rub for meats like chicken or pork," says Dot. "I've ordered the bags for packaging it, and we should have them on the market in 2016." With the new ventures they are undertaking, and the ever expanding reach of their pretzels, it looks like Dot's Homestyle Pretzels is sticking around to help keep the Star City shining bright.

 

North Dakota Food Traditions

Create Memories Across State

 N o r t h D a k o t a H o r i z o n s • W i n t e r 2 0 1 3


Dot’s Pretzels, a seasoned and baked pretzel treat, originated

as a family favorite snack that soon couldn’t keep up

with the demand of those who tried them. “Two years ago

my husband and I were in Arizona and one of our relatives

asked me to make a batch for her to give for corporate

holiday gifts,” says Dorthy Henke, president and co-owner

of Dot’s Pretzels, based in Velva. “Shortly after that, they

were asking where they could purchase some of the pretzels

because they were such a big hit.”

Dot’s Pretzels are now sold at more than 600 locations

throughout the region, through wholesale distributors, Pride

of Dakota showcases and on the Dot’s Pretzels website,

www.dotspretzels.com.

Henke says her product is a way to share a family food

tradition with others. “Some of our fondest memories are

formed around the ethnic cuisine and treats you grew up

with and enjoyed with family and friends.”

Learn more about North

Dakota’s legendary foods and

destinations by contacting

North Dakota Tourism at

800-435-5663 or visiting

www.ndtourism.com.

N o r t h D a k o ta H o r i z o n s • Wi n t e r 2013

                              Velva Area Voice

Twisty, tasty, toasty treats!
Cindy Kittelson, editor
Velva Area Voice

The pretzel may be the oldest manmade snack food in the world, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t evolved.
Traditional looped pretzels are said to have been invented by Italian monks in 610 AD as “little rewards” for children who learned their prayers. Another source also credits a monastery, but this time in France, while others say the pretzel has its roots in Germany where they were the invention of desperate bakers.
It was the latter who brought the pretzel to North America as the German immigrants introduced the handmade snack in the 19th century, however, and the pretzel has been an American treat ever since.
But again, that doesn’t mean that the salty goodie hasn’t changed over the years, and one of the tastiest reincarnations of the crunchy pretzel can be found right in Velva.
Dorothy Henke, headquartered out of Velva Fresh Foods, is turning out her personal version of Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels, much to the delight of local munchers.
She started making the pretzels at home for family and friends, adding her own tasty twist to the crunchy sticks. Everyone gobbled them up and raved about the flavor, but Henke just looked at the treats as a popular family favorite.
Until a friend stepped in with a request.
“I had a friend in Arizona who asked me if I would make her some as holiday gifts for her clients,” Henke said. “So I did, and evidently, they all loved them. That’s when she said I needed to do something with them.”
Henke and her farmer husband, Randy, are snowbirds, so her enterprise actually began in Arizona, and has now traveled north.
“I started baking up batches, packaging them, and taking them to high school games in Arizona,” she said. “I’d sell them just like concessions.”
When Henke returned to North Dakota for the farming season, she found there was a different set of regulations for food production, and had to adjust accordingly.
“In Arizona, you can cook in your home and sell it, as long as you don’t have trucks or customers coming right to your door,” she said. “Here, the rules are a little different.”
Part of those laws involved listing the nutrition facts on the package, along with ingredients, which she did with the help of North Dakota State University.
“That didn’t mean giving away my secret recipe, though,” she said with a laugh.
But another regulation proved a bit more bothersome: North Dakota law requires commercially sold food be prepared in a commercial kitchen. After several inquiries provided no results, Henke called Shawn Vedaa of Velva Fresh Foods for advice.
Instead, Vedaa offered her the store’s bakery for her use three days a week.
“He’s been fantastic,” she said. “And it works out perfect.”
Now, Henke spends those days in the local grocery store seasoning and baking her homestyle pretzels, then packing them into five-ounce and one- and two-pound packages.
So far, the twisty little toasts been a hit, and both Vedaa and Henke have heard nothing but compliments on Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels.
The crunchy sticks are available at the grocery store and the C-Store in Velva, as well as at Poynter’s Ag Supply in Sawyer and the Off Broadway Laundromat. Henke admits that distribution is a challenge facing the fledgling enterprise, but she’s working on different avenues.
“We don’t have the contracts signed yet, but we’re working on it,” she said. “We wanted to get them out in our area first.”
After spending 40 years in the financial industry, Henke finds the career change refreshing and challenging.
“It was time to try something new, you know?” she said. “Who knows how far it will go?”
Henke says her secret recipe will remain so, and admits to giving it some fine tuning and “tweaking” over time. While she feels pretty confident she’s hit a winning mixture, she welcomes comments and suggestions.
Henke has a website for her new business – www.DotsPretzels.com
and customers can order the salty snacks directly.
Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels is also a member of Pride of Dakota.                                                                                                          May 10, 2012

 

 The Minot Daily News

Passion for Pretzels

Velva business driven by consumer demand

November 1, 2012
By JILL SCHRAMM - Staff Writer (jschramm@minodailynews.com) , Minot Daily News

VELVA An old family recipe has turned Dorothy Henke's retirement into an adventure.

Henke began marketing her special brand of seasoned pretzels after getting rave reviews wherever she shared her baked specialty.

Even now, she is surprised by the number of customers who go out of their way to contact her after trying Dot's Homestyle Pretzels.

"People grab a bag out of a store, and they have called me and said how great they are," said Henke, who estimates she averages the equivalent of two calls a day. "It's amazing. You can be down in the dumps and you get one of those phone calls, and you think, 'I can get going again.' It makes you feel good. That really is the fun part. Baking pretzels is fun, but when you hear comments like that when it's something you have done, you have created, it makes you feel good."

A Pride of Dakota product, Dot's Homestyle Pretzels was an idea that actually formulated in Arizona, where Henke and her husband, Randy, spend the winters. Relatives of Randy's, who now are Henke's business partners in Arizona, were the first to suggest that Henke go beyond making the pretzels just for her own family. They encouraged her to bag them to give as Christmas gifts. That went over so well that Henke began selling the pretzels at concessions at sporting events.

"People loved them," she said. "It was just fun."

To market in North Dakota, Henke needed to meet the state's requirements for a commercial kitchen. The grocery store in Velva made its kitchen available to her when not in use for its bakery. That was where Henke operated earlier this year, until moving into a building in downtown Velva on Oct. 23.

The Henkes, who live between Max and Benedict, looked at several communities before deciding on Velva because of the availability of a building that suits their needs.

Formerly a wood-working shop, the building needed water and sewer installed along with electrical work and other remodeling. Velva's economic development group and the city's Renaissance Zone are expected to provide assistance with the building costs. Henke's son, who has a background in construction, also helped with the remodeling. Henke's husband, three children and granddaughter all have had some hand in the business.

Henke also has invested in equipment that includes a tumbler that serves as a large mixer.

"The mixing is the key," Henke said.

Not just any pretzel will work, either. Henke buys twisted stick pretzels that meet her specifications from an Indiana manufacturer. Then there is the slow baking that is a critical step in creating the perfect pretzel.

She recently added a second oven to increase her capacity from 400 pounds of pretzels a day to up to 800 pounds. Henke transports the pretzels to area retailers and distributors, who get the product into stores across North Dakota and into South Dakota, Minnesota and Washington state.

The product is available in convenience stores, groceries or other locations in numerous cities, including Burlington, Berthold, Kenmare, Max, Mohall, Rugby, Sawyer, Stanley, Surrey, Towner, Watford City, Westhope and Williston. In Velva, it can be found at Velva Fresh Foods, Farmers Union C-store and the golf course. In Minot, the pretzels are sold at Home Sweet Home, Maysa Arena and Harley's Arrowhead Conoco. A list of retail sites and an online order form can be found at (www.dotspretzels.com).

Henke also expects to be at the Pride of Dakota shows taking place around the state, including in Minot, over the next couple of months and in Mesa, Ariz., this winter.

Henke said she feels good that her company is helping the economy by generating additional business for local retailers and adding to employment. The company employs one full-time and two part-time workers, including one who does labeling out of her home. Henke said her business is able to offer flexible hours, and it's her intent to give employees time off to fit family activities into their schedules.

Henke hopes to set up a branch operation in Arizona this winter. Arizona regulations allow her to make the pretzels in her home, although that may be temporary, too, if business takes off and requires its own location, she said.

The business has been a big change for Henke, who worked in the financial field for 30 years before retiring to help out on the family farm. Now, she said, she is busier than ever.

"It's overwhelming," she said. "There's no other word for it."

Opening the pretzel business was a calculated decision, though. It came down to the customers.

"If people enjoy them why not?" she said.

 
 
 
 
 
Published November 12, 2012, 05:00 AM

Velva, ND, businesswoman has passion for pretzels

An old family recipe has turned Dorothy Henke’s retirement into an adventure. Henke began marketing her special brand of seasoned pretzels after getting rave reviews wherever she shared her baked specialty.

By: Jill Schram, Minot Daily News

Henke began marketing her special brand of seasoned pretzels after getting rave reviews wherever she shared her baked specialty.

Even now, she is surprised by the number of customers who go out of their way to contact her after trying Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels.

“People grab a bag out of a store, and they have called me and said how great they are,” said Henke, who estimates she averages the equivalent of two calls a day. “It’s amazing. You can be down in the dumps, and you get one of those phone calls, and you think, ‘I can get going again.’ It makes you feel good. That really is the fun part. Baking pretzels is fun, but when you hear comments like that when it’s something you have done, you have created, it makes you feel good.”

A Pride of Dakota product, Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels was an idea that actually formulated in Arizona, where Henke and her husband, Randy, spend the winters. Relatives of Randy’s, who now are Henke’s business partners in Arizona, were the first to suggest that Henke go beyond making the pretzels just for her own family. They encouraged her to bag them to give as Christmas gifts. That went over so well that Henke began selling the pretzels at concessions at sporting events.

‘Just fun’

“People loved them,” she said. “It was just fun.”

To market in North Dakota, Henke needed to meet the state’s requirements for a commercial kitchen. The grocery store in Velva made its kitchen available to her when not in use for its bakery. That was where Henke operated earlier this year, until moving into a building in downtown Velva on Oct. 23.

The Henkes looked at several communities before deciding on Velva because of the availability of a building that suits their needs.

Formerly a wood-working shop, the building needed water and sewer installed along with electrical work and other remodeling. Velva’s economic development group and the city’s Renaissance Zone are expected to provide assistance with the building costs. Henke’s son, who has a background in construction, also helped with the remodeling. Henke’s husband, three children and granddaughter all have had some hand in the business.

Henke also has invested in equipment that includes a tumbler that serves as a large mixer.

“The mixing is the key,” Henke said.

Regional pretzel

Not just any pretzel will work, either. Henke buys twisted stick pretzels that meet her specifications from an Indiana manufacturer. Then there is the slow baking that is a critical step in creating the perfect pretzel.

She recently added a second oven to increase her capacity from 400 pounds of pretzels a day to up to 800 pounds. Henke transports the pretzels to area retailers and distributors, who get the product into stores across North Dakota and into South Dakota, Minnesota and Washington state.

The product is available in convenience stores, groceries or other locations in numerous cities. A list of retail sites and an online order form can be found at http://www.dotspretzels.com.

Henke also expects to be at the Pride of Dakota shows taking place around the state over the next couple of months and in Mesa, Ariz., this winter.

Henke said she feels good that her company is helping the economy by generating additional business for local retailers and adding to employment. The company employs one full-time and two part-time workers, including one who does labeling out of her home. Henke said her business is able to offer flexible hours, and it’s her intent to give employees time off to fit family activities into their schedules.

Henke hopes to set up a branch operation in Arizona this winter. Arizona regulations allow her to make the pretzels in her home, although that may be temporary, too, if business takes off and requires its own location, she said.

The business has been a big change for Henke, who worked in the financial field for 30 years before retiring to help out on the family farm. Now, she said, she is busier than ever.

“It’s overwhelming,” she said. “There’s no other word for it.”

Opening the pretzel business was a calculated decision, though. It came down to the customers.

“If people enjoy them, why not?” she said.