Reading was once know as Pretzel City USA because of it's rich heritage of pretzel bakeries throughout the city as well as the surrounding counties. According to an article in the Lancaster “Volksfreund ,” a local Lancaster County Paper, Julius Sturgis is credited with being the first in United States history to establish pretzel baking as an industry. Tom Sturgis, a cousin of Julius brought pretzel baking to Berks County. The Sturgis family has remained in business in Berks County ever since. In addition to the Sturgis family pretzel bakeries, the Reading, Pa area was the home of many other pretzel bakeries.
In the heyday of pretzel baking in Reading, bakers like Benjamin Lichtenthaler, who operated a pretzel bakery on Plum St then later on Cherry St produced more than 150,000 pretzels a day. Other pretzel bakeries in Reading included the Hendricks and Adams Bakery, the Muntz Bakery, The Quinlan Bakery and Bachman Pretzels among others.
The local pretzel bakeries called their products bretzels instead of pretzels as late as 1900. The name bretzels was later changed to pretzels as the popularity of the snack food in the Berk County region continued to grow.
Through the years many of the nineteenth and early twentieth century bretzel bakeries have faded into Berks County history. Today, while the city may no longer bear the monicker Pretzel City, USA or have as many pretzel bakeries within the city limits as there was in the heyday of pretzel making there is still a rich heritage of pretzel bakeries small and large left in and around the city.