Soft pretzels sold on the street from a basket were big business in the 1960s [I Know a Story column] | Nostalgia

If you were a frequent visitor to downtown Lancaster in the mid-1960s, you probably remember a gentleman named Vic Rittenhouse who sold soft pretzels at a stand in front of the Fulton Bank on the first block of North Queen Street.

You could say he was rolling in the dough.

Vika and I had a common class. We both sold soft pretzels.

The implements of our trade were a large wicker basket and a metal coin changer attached to the belt.

If you had said “street hustle” before, I would have thought you meant “speed walking”.

Six o’clock in the morning on a summer weekday.

I ended up in the back room of a house in the 400 block of West Vine Street. This is a soft bakery with deep dutch ovens.

I am 12 years old, in the mid-1960s. The owner, Mr. Fasnacht, said, “Help me assemble these pretzels and eat as many as you want.”

Then I would go off route, lugging a large wicker basket full of soft pretzels.

I used to visit businesses on the west side of town like Raub Supply, Adelphia Seafood and Trojan Boat.

I knew what the employees’ break time was and I waited for them. It was 15 cents for a small bag and a quarter for a large bag of pretzels.

The next morning I paid the owner of the pretzel bakery and left with a $3 cleanup, proud of a job well done and feeling rich.

Mr. Fasnacht set up a stand of soft pretzels at Reynolds Junior High School Monday through Thursday, and Friday afternoon at my alma mater, Sacred Heart of Jesus, after graduation.

The author lives in Lancaster. Fassnacht Pretzel Bakery, 403 W. Vine St., regularly advertised in the 1950s for pretzel vendors who could supply their own baskets, according to LNP archives.

If you know of an interesting story, please write it in 600 words or less and email it to Mary Ellen Wright, LNP Editorial Department, PO Box 1328, Lancaster, PA, 17608-1328 Please include your phone number and the name of the city in which you live.

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