Workers Reveal What It's Really Like To Work At Wetzel's Pretzels

While the name of the company may have started out as a childhood taunt ("When I was a kid, I was always called 'Wetzel Pretzel,'" founder Rick Wetzel told Mashed in an exclusive interview), Wetzel's Pretzels is now recognized across the United States and around the world. Even if there's not one near you, if you've spent time in shopping malls or airport terminals, then you probably know the name. Wetzel's Pretzels has even taken its food on the road, launching Wetzel's Pretzels food trucks in select metropolitan areas across the United States.

Being part of such a well-known and dynamic international chain restaurant must come with some baggage, right? Is business always bustling, or does it slow to a crawl at any point? Is it possible to climb the proverbial ladder? Do employees come away smelling like pretzels? Keep reading to find the answers to these questions and more, straight from the mouths of Wetzel's Pretzels employees themselves.

This is not a job for the claustrophobic

If you're someone who "feels very uncomfortable or anxious" whenever you're inside "small or enclosed places" (which is the Collins Dictionary definition of claustrophobia), then consider your actions carefully before applying to work at a branch of Wetzel's Pretzels. As one former employee in Arizona phrased it on Indeed, "If you dislike working in small spaces, this is not the job for you." A cashier in California listed "working in a tight environment" under cons in their Glassdoor workplace review.

When asked what would improve Wetzel's Pretzels, a cashier in California answered, "I'd say make the space much bigger because I worked in a place where it was cramped and it's hard to walk through other people sometimes." A former cashier in Iowa answered the same question with "a bigger location." Given that so many Wetzel's Pretzels locations are in shopping malls and airport terminals, the limited kiosk space shouldn't really come as a surprise. Food trucks are also better known for their mobility and efficiency rather than elbow room.

The simple menu makes the job easy

Part of the reason Wetzel's Pretzels locations don't have a lot of space is that the menu is so simple — they don't need masses of equipment in there to fulfill orders. As one former employee in Colorado put it on Indeed, "I think it's genuinely one of the easiest jobs ever. You're literally selling pretzels." A team member in New Jersey said on Glassdoor that two perks to their job at Wetzel's Pretzels are the "easy menu [and the] easy tasks."

Of course, fast food options are designed to be easy to assemble — if they weren't, they wouldn't be fast. Speaking about this type of employment, a Reddit user with experience of the industry said that there's really nothing more to fast food jobs than what you see when you're in a branch. "I don't know Wetzel's Pretzels to be honest, but here's the thing: these are jobs that are practically designed for low/no work experience teenagers," they wrote. "You might not get the best training, but the tasks themselves are not going to be very hard, and as long as you have some confidence, your coworkers will be patient."

It's a fast-paced work environment

Shopping malls and airport terminals can be very busy places. People hurry from one location to another and just want to grab a quick bite that satisfies their hunger but doesn't take up a lot of time. That is where fast food chains like Wetzel's Pretzels come in. Of course, as we've already mentioned, the process of making a pretzel at Wetzel's is streamlined for efficiency, but that doesn't mean the people making them can take their time doing so. Employees are expected to work fast so customers can get in and out as quickly as possible.

A former employee from California said on Indeed, "If you know you can work fast pace you'll do good here." Another ex-team member agreed, saying that "the job is very fast paced and the lines could take forever." As a result of this, the place can get "very busy and stressful," they cautioned. A current cashier in California saw the busyness in a positive light, saying, "This was my first customer service job and I like it a lot. Slow days are good because you don't have to do much. Fast days are good because the day goes by faster and you get into a rhythm."

It's a terrific first job

As one Reddit user said, jobs like those at Wetzel's Pretzels are designed to be easy and not require a lot of prior experience to do. This makes them ideal positions for those joining the workforce for the first time, as well as seasonal or second jobs. A current cashier in Arizona said on Indeed, "I have been working here for four months now and it has been great! This is my first job and would recommend anyone to apply. Wonderful work environment and flexible hours."

These sentiments were echoed by a former employee from Indiana, who found Wetzel's Pretzels to be an excellent introduction to working life. "It was a very good first job, the [managers] were very lenient. The people were awesome." They added: "The employees and management made it a very positive and fun experience." A former shift leader in California recommended Wetzel's Pretzels as "a perfect job for students, or anybody who is looking for a flexible schedule," while an ex-team member suggested that the chain was a suitable seasonal job. "Could get some solid hours during holiday season," they said on Glassdoor.

There isn't much room for growth

There isn't much room to grow at Wetzel's Pretzels, and we're not talking about the cramped work spaces. While Wetzel's may be an exemplary part-time job, there doesn't seem to be many places to go from there. Browsing the list of openings on Glassdoor reveals a limited number of positions. There's the odd team lead and associate manager position, but the vast majority of roles are for regular team members.

This is something to consider if you're looking for a job that won't lead to a dead end. A former California crew member warned would-be employees on Indeed there's "Not that much room to grow unless you wanna be a general manager maybe." When asked about the promotion process at Wetzel's Pretzels, only one employee had anything positive to say: "Fairly quick, based on performance." Another answered emphatically that there isn't a process, and another said, "Extremely limited."

On Glassdoor, a former baker in California admitted that Wetzel's Pretzels was a good starter job, but they listed under job cons, "No room for growth and lack of hours." A former cashier from Washington listed under their cons, "Low pay, no hours, no room for advancement." It's a complaint that comes up time and time again when those who work/have worked at Wetzel's Pretzels get together to discuss the company.

Does Wetzel's Pretzels offer regular wage increases?

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an employee's pay may be raised for several reasons. Rewarding a worker for staying with the job, keeping up with the rising cost of living, and offering additional pay for learning a new job skill are all reasons an employer may offer a wage increase. At Wetzel's Pretzels, raises are given on a yearly basis according to several employees on Indeed. This may differ from place to place, however, because one worker said that they got a pay bump every six months, while another got more money after just three months on the job.

"After the first three months they gave a 50 cents raise," a former employee from Nevada said, while a former assistant manager from Illinois said that they received a raise "Very often." However, one former cashier based in California painted a different picture: They said that they received a raise "Not that often." It's difficult to say exactly how often Wetzel's Pretzels dishes out more money to its employees. Because the chain is spread not only across the United States but is found in Canada and Central America as well, the regularity and amount of pay increase likely varies by location.

You get plenty of free food

Every restaurant worker will tell you that one of the biggest perks of the job is the opportunity to get free food, and this is most certainly the case when it comes to employees of Wetzel's Pretzels. This is a common theme when past and present staff members discuss what it's like to work for Wetzel's, no matter where in America they were/are employed. One former employee from California didn't have a lot of good things to say about the job itself, but they listed "friendly coworkers and free meal" under the pros section of their Glassdoor review. A current employee in California agreed with them, saying that workers "get free food and drinks."

On Indeed, one former employee from New York made it clear that they thought their particular branch was understaffed during their time there. However, despite all the extra work they had to do as a result of this, they still appreciated all the free food they were given. Another former team member reported on their job pros list that they would get "free food" when the shutters came down at the end of the day " or if the order was mixed up." According to a former employee on Reddit, because Wetzel's Pretzels bakes their pretzels from scratch every day, the unsold goods are either tossed out or taken home by employees.

The wages are reportedly pretty low in some locations

It's a good thing that Wetzel's Pretzels seemingly offers regular wage increases, because, according to many employees, the hourly rate of pay is not that great. Per Glassdoor, the average Wetzel's Pretzels crew member makes between $12 and $15 per hour. An assistant manager makes between $19 and $27 per hour, and a store manager can earn between $26 and $39 per hour. $39 an hour might not seem so bad, but this appears to be a rarity. Depending on where the branch is located, these wages can leave something to be desired — $12 an hour doesn't go very far at all in many parts of the United States.

One California-based shift leader writing on Glassdoor recommended Wetzel's Pretzels as a good first job for those in high school, but they were quick to lament the low levels of pay. Another shift leader on Glassdoor said that "after 4 years I finally got a few cent raise [and it was] not enough." Multiple employees reported on Indeed that they made minimum wage when they were hired, with one former Indiana employee calling their hourly rate "laughable" for the workload.

Of course, there's no way of knowing how Wetzel's Pretzels actually structures its wages. All we can go off is what people who have worked there are willing to spill, but their stories don't make good reading for anyone hoping to earn a decent wage working at Wetzel's. One former employee from California said that an assistant manager's starting wage was just $12 in 2017, well below the reported average. Writing in 2021, another former employee claimed that the company was paying crew members as little as $9 an hour in some locations.

You come home smelling like pretzels

"What's better than sex?" asks one enthusiastic pretzel fan on Twitter. "The smell of Wetzel's Pretzels at the mall." We suspect they were exaggerating, but the fact is that the aroma of Wetzel's Pretzels' freshly baked buttery pretzels is indeed legendary. You don't need the mall map to find a Wetzel's, you just need to follow your nose. How does that work out for the employees who are virtually swimming in it for hours at a time? It depends on who you ask.

A former employee complained on Glassdoor that "you always smell like bread" when you work at Wetzel's Pretzels. Over on Indeed, an employee from Nevada specified that it's the pretzels you smell like. A baker in California disagreed in their Glassdoor review, saying, "You smell like butter when you get home." Some people don't mind the fact that an aroma of food follows them out of the door when they finish their shift, but it really depends on what you can smell. The scent of bread and butter doesn't seem too bad, but, according to one employee on Glassdoor, you actually smell "like grease and burnt cheese all day" when you're a Wetzel's employee, which, needless to say, they did not enjoy.

Regardless of the exact fragrance, everyone agreed that if you work at a Wetzel's Pretzels, you are definitely going to leave smelling like food.

You might get a burn or two

As previously mentioned, Wetzel's Pretzels makes their pretzels fresh every day. This means they are being baked at each location in ovens that get very hot. As such, there is a real chance that employees may get burned from time to time. In fact, one employee listed "Burns from ovens" under the cons section of their Glassdoor employment review, seemingly indicating that this is a semi-regular occurrence when you work at a Wetzel's. This has been backed up by a number of other employees, who have come forward with stories about burn wounds of varying severity. Writing on Glassdoor, another employee explained that the "oven is incredibly hot so I burned my hands a few times making the pretzels."

On top of looking out for yourself, you also need to be mindful when it comes to your colleagues. One extremely dissatisfied former employee in Maryland said on Indeed about their time at Wetzel's Pretzels that it's "Easy to get hurt" in the kitchen. They added: "Oven is extremely dangerous [and] you could easily turn around and burn someone." Oven burns can be mild or severe, but they're always painful, no matter how bad they are. Careful treatment is required even for small burns, and sometimes a trip to the doctor is required. Nobody wants to be that person who sent their co-worker to hospital with a nasty oven burn, which means Wetzel's Pretzels staff have to concentrate when they're in the kitchen area.

Does Wetzel's Pretzels give holiday pay?

While many businesses offer extra incentives and/or rewards for their employees who work over the holidays, extra pay is not required or regulated. Sometimes employees are given time-and-a-half, or even double-time pay if they're lucky. A one-off payment of a holiday bonus is also not uncommon. How does Wetzel's Pretzels treat its employees during the festive season?

Well, one employee from California reported on Indeed that while the fast food chain does offer holiday pay, it is only on Christmas and New Year's. Another employee from Washington countered this, saying that they did not receive any holiday pay, but they did receive a Christmas bonus. Another former employee from California, also writing on Indeed, said, "I got $200 holiday bonuses every Christmas season."

Given the difference in answers about holiday pay between two different California locations (one in Anaheim, the other in Arcadia), it seems as though this is a decision that is left up to the franchise owner. The financial clout of owners can vary — some may just have one franchise location, while others may have many. "I have tried running other fast food franchises and none of them compare to Wetzel's in terms of ease of operation and profitability," multi-unit franchise owner Sai Hossain said. "I have 39 Wetzel's locations today and I plan to open 3-5 per year over the next three years."