An army of bakers spend each day twisting and rolling dough to form the iconic Philadelphia snack — soft pretzels. But while the end result may seem identical to the next, each delicious twist has distinct characters. At least, that’s according to the founders of Philly Pretzel Factory Dan DiZio and Len Lehman.
Twenty years after the two began the company in a warehouse in the Northeast, it has expanded to more than 150 stores in 17 states. The onetime college roommates still relish the small joys of the product, and the individual attention paid to each chunk of flour and yeast on its way to becoming a pretzel, writes Allison Steele for philly.com.
There are more than 14 Philly Pretzel Factory locations in Montgomery County and there are currently 25 locations in Manhattan.
The origin story of the company, which this week celebrated its 20th anniversary, is by now well-known; how DiZio, a former stockbroker, and Lehman, an ex-counselor, hatched a plan to produce wholesale numbers of the pretzels beloved by longtime Philly residents who grew up buying them on street corners. The duo started out sleeping on bags of flour and twisting dough by hand, sweating out long nights over a rickety pretzel machine that had drained their savings accounts.
“Dan likes to talk about the good old days, but it was horrible,” Lehman said. “Our friends were all going down the Shore, having fun. We’d be twisting for six hours with no air-conditioning.”
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