Lititz, Pennsylvania – Pretzels, Chocolate and History

Where did hard pretzels get their start? Where did General John Sutter of Sutter’s Mill, California, settle after the discovery of gold on his property? What chocolate company is headquartered in a small Pennsylvania town? Who are the Moravians and where are they found?

The answer to these questions and more is Lititz, Pennsylvania.

Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery

 

Founded in 1861, the bakery was the first to commercially produce hard pretzels. When Julius Sturgis was working as an apprentice, he discovered the double baking process that produced hard pretzels. They became so popular that he and his family continued to expand the business, which still operates today.

Visitors can tour the original factory with its brick ovens, see many of the antique mixing and weighing devices, and try their hand at twisting the pretzels into the famous criss-crossed shape.

General John Sutter’s Final Home and Gravesite

When gold was found on John Sutter’s property at Sutter’s Mill, Coloma, California, it set off the 1849 Gold Rush. Sutter himself did not profit from the find and tried repeatedly to petition the United States to reimburse him for his losses.

Sutter and his wife, Nanette, moved East to Lititz, Pennsylvania, in an attempt to be closer to Washington, D.C. so he could lobby for his rights. In 1858, the United States Supreme Court denied his claim. Disillusioned, Sutter continued to pursue his desire for restitution through Congress but he died without receiving any recompense.

Sutter was attracted to Lititz because of the springs, which were believed to have healing properties. He also felt the Moravians would provide quality education for his grandchildren. Today the springs are incorporated into a beautiful park within the town center known as Lititz Springs Park. The park is owned by the Moravian Church and maintained by the churches in town. Picnic areas, playing fields, walking paths, and a visitor’s center are located there.

John Sutter’s home has become the General Sutter Inn on Main Street in Lititz, where sixteen rooms are available for gracious lodging and a dining room offers regional delights. His grave is in the nearby Moravian churchyard.

Wilbur Chocolate Company

This specialty chocolate company began in Philadelphia and later moved to its location in Lititz. The Wilbur family operated the company for many years and it is still a part of a privately held corporation. The aroma of chocolate hovers over the town on the days when candy is being processed.

Contained within the factory building is a museum highlighting various types of candy-making equipment, molds, and packaging, which have been used over the years by Wilbur Chocolate Company. Found within the factory store are a variety of their chocolate products, as well as novelty items with a chocolate theme.

Moravian Influence in Lititz

Lancaster County is home to many religious groups known collectively as the Pennsylvania Dutch, a misnomer because most of the settlers were originally from Germany. The Mennonites, Brethren, Amish, and Moravians are among the sects that found religious freedom in this beautiful farm country.

In 1742, Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf of Saxony in Germany, leader and organizer of what became known as the Moravian Church, came to the Lititz area and found it hospitable. In 1749, a Moravian congregation was organized and many settlers found their way to the area. Von Zinzendorf named the little community “Lititz” as it reminded him of the castle of Lidice in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). He returned to Europe but his influence and direction kept the community prospering.

The Moravians still provide a strong presence in Lititz today. It is a major religious center as well as housing educational institutions founded in the 1700’s which continue to this day. The Moravians originally chose to separate themselves from outside influences so that they could worship and live in their own way. As the population increased, other denominations moved in, but there is still a major connection to the Moravians in Lititz a where a church, archives center, and museums are available to visit.

The Community of Lititz

In addition to the above-mentioned places of interest, the town of Lititz features many craftspeople, artists, and specialty shops. It is surrounded by farm country and weekly farmers’ markets bring fresh local produce into the town.

Local events take place throughout the year, including Fourth of July festivities and parade, art shows, craft shows, antique shows, and special Christmas celebrations.

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