I had the opportunity to speak with St. Clair Shores resident and small business owner Ann Bobek about her burgeoning decadent gourmet pretzel business, The Twisted Pretzel, which combines the perfect twist of salty pretzels with drizzled chocolate and gooey caramel.
The Twisted Pretzel officially launched in February 2013, but its inspiration started many years earlier. Ann has always loved to cook and bake, something passed down to her by her grandmothers and great aunts who often baked pies and cookies. But it wasn’t until her son started kindergarten that she discovered her passion for chocolate-covered pretzels.
Once introduced to the technique, she quickly began bringing tasty pretzel rod treats to school parties and holidays, where she started to hear, “You should start your own business” – a lot. But with young kids, the timing wasn’t right.
Flash forward to the present day, and Ann’s youngest child is a senior in high school and The Twisted Pretzel is open for business. But it didn’t happen overnight. Ann did what every new business owner should, she put in the work.
Ann attended classes at the Small Business Development Center, took classes at the Michigan State Product Center and scheduled meetings with Small Business Counselor Wendy Richardson, Innovation Counselor Micah Loucks and our Senior Economic Development Specialist Jack Johns.
“Jack’s proactive and pushes me forward, connecting me to other people,” said Ann. “Connecting and networking with peers and mentors has been a source of knowledge and insight.”
At the Michigan State Product Center, Ann soaked up all she could from the “food people” there. She first showed her product to Micah who saw it as a unique item not currently on the market in this area. He gave his initial stamp of approval and continues to counsel and work with Ann regularly.
“Not only has he helped me out and guided me, but there is also a friendship that develops when you go through this process,” Ann said of Micah.
The Twisted Pretzel specializes in gourmet pretzels that come in an assortment of shapes and sizes. Their most popular product is Funky Chunky Bark. Not wanting to let broken pretzels go to waste, Ann came up with the idea to incorporate pretzel pieces, dark chocolate, peanut butter chocolate and handmade marshmallow made from scratch. Other products include Caramel Twisters, Twisted Turtles and Pretzel Twists that can be embellished with Cinnamon Crunch, Cookies and Cream, Java, M&Ms, Razz Berry, Toffee or Peppermint Twist.
Ann refers to her product as “edible art” because it looks as beautiful as it is delicious, and I can vouch for that. These gourmet desserts are perfect for holidays, graduations, showers and even corporate events. Each product is handmade with care, and Ann supports other Michigan businesses whenever possible, including in her printing and packaging, which she does through the Detroit-based Michigan Box Company.
A lot of changes occur during the first stages of a new business. There is a lot to learn and an evolution that occurs as you iron out your product, identity and key market. But Ann is up for the challenge, saying, “Whatever fabulous journey awaits, it’s sure to be exciting.”
Macomb County locations carrying The Twisted Pretzel products are Viviano Flower Shop branches in Chesterfield Township, Shelby Township and St. Clair Shores and Urban Attic also in St. Clair Shores. You can also catch Ann (and some free samples!) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23 at the St. Clair Shores Viviano Open House. For more information on The Twisted Pretzel, visit their website at www.twstdprtzl.com/.
Caitlin Gerds-Habermas works for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development, often providing content for the Make Macomb Your Home website.