How Pretzels Actually Saved The Real Auntie Anne's Marriage

No trip to the mall is complete without a stop at Auntie Anne's Pretzels to refuel after an exhausting afternoon of shopping. You can smell it from yards away — that drool-inducing scent that smells buttery, cinnamon-y, and doughy all at the same time. With over 1,000 locations in shopping malls across the country, Auntie Anne's has become famous for its fluffy fresh-baked soft pretzels that are coated in melted butter and dusted with chunky sea salt. 

What some people might not realize about the national chain is that Auntie Anne's isn't just a made-up name. There really was an Auntie Anne – Anne Beiler — in real life. A small-town girl from Pennsylvania, Anne wasn't always destined to be a pretzel queen. The story of how she built her empire involves a rocky marriage that might have failed had she not discovered her baking talents. Here's the scandalous truth behind how Auntie Anne's came to be.

It started with an illicit affair

After Anne and her husband Jonas' 19-month-old daughter was killed in a tragic accident in 1975, Anne started seeing a pastor for support — which turned into an affair that lasted years. When she later confessed to her husband, they went through counseling together to fix their marriage and, feeling inspired, he decided to start a counseling center of his own. However, he'd need money to do that and Anne decided to make that her mission. "There was nothing left for me to do except I wanted to give back to my husband," she said in an interview with HuffPost. "He saved my marriage, my family and me ... I wanted to be the breadwinner for him."

As a result, she started helping out a friend at a local farmer's market stand. When she got the chance to then buy her own stand, Anne jumped at it and began selling pretzels and fresh-squeezed lemonade. From there, Auntie Anne's as we know it was born.