How Guy Fieri's Food Career Started With Pretzels

Salty, mustardy, doughy, and chewy, Guy Fieri's first soft pretzel was unlike anything he'd ever tasted (via Eater). On a family trip to Lake Tahoe, the Bavarian snack both shocked and shaped 10-year-old Fieri's palate, which had only known health foods like "steamed fish and brown rice" cooked by his parents in Ferndale, California. Young Fieri, who had already tried and abandoned the lemonade- and Kool-Aid-stand businesses, knew that he had to get in on the pretzel craze with a cart of his own, he said in an interview with Susan Noyes of the Make It Better Foundation (via YouTube).

Back home in Ferndale, the tween and his dad spent six months building a yellow wooden pretzel cart, mounted atop a three-wheeled bicycle, according to CNBC. Fieri paraded the "The Awesome Pretzel Cart" to local fairs and events during his high school years, eventually selling enough 50-cent hot pretzels to fund a year-long study-abroad adventure in Chantilly, France. That experience, Eater reports, helped Fieri realize that he was "a food person" and encouraged him to pursue restaurant work when he returned to the United States. It was a soft pretzel, then, that spurred Fieri's storied career as the mayor of Flavor Town.

Fieri helped other kids launch their careers with pretzels

Guy Fieri, who has made headlines throughout his career for his charity work, developed the Pretzel Cart Project, which provided kids with pretzel carts to raise money for philanthropic organizations. "One day it just struck me. The pretzel cart is how I got my start. We're gonna give other kids that start," Fieri said in an interview with Susan Noyes, adding that the project also taught participants about cooking, business, teamwork, community service, health and safety, and other skills (via YouTube).

Fieri has since shifted his philanthropy focus to aid struggling restaurants during the pandemic, but his pretzel cart story can continue to inspire young people to pursue their interests in food and fund their endeavors independently. "My dad made me do all of the work," Fieri said to Noyes, remembering what he learned from his first food business. "I really attribute a tremendous amount of how I got to where I am from having the pretzel cart."