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Snack-Food Treat in Lebanon, Pennsylvania: Shuey's Pretzels

Food, glorious food! Maren brings you rare recipes and news of funky, out-of-the-way places to dine or purchase treats.

Old-fashioned techniques: Using a peel to put pretzels into the brick oven at Shuey's Pretzels, Lebanon, PA.

Old-fashioned techniques: Using a peel to put pretzels into the brick oven at Shuey's Pretzels, Lebanon, PA.

Handmade, Brick-Oven Cooked Pretzels Four Days a Week

Shuey's is a very traditional pretzel bakery that makes only three kinds of pretzels. Its hard pretzels are either "beer" pretzels or the slightly larger "large" pretzels. These are available all four days of the week when the store is open. Saturday is the very special soft pretzel baking day. Customers line up outside the door to buy these still warm from the oven.

The shop opens at 9 a.m. on Wednesday through Saturday. Closing time is neither stated on the door sign nor guaranteed to stay consistent. Whenever they sell out for the day, they close.

A single beautiful hard beer pretzel from Shuey's

A single beautiful hard beer pretzel from Shuey's

Advertising Via Word of Mouth

An out-of-town realtor remarked in wonder, "I hear that Lebanon has a pretzel shop where people line up before it opens to buy their pretzels." She did not know the name of the establishment or its location. Yes, it takes a little work to find this shop, because it only lightly advertises itself. Shuey's is very successful and in no danger of closing due to the best marketing of all: word of mouth by satisfied (delighted is a more accurate term) customers.

Shuey's Pretzels does not have any of the following:

  • a website,
  • billboards,
  • print, radio, or television ads, or
  • a sign in the front yard of its building.

They do have:

  • a Facebook page,
  • a listed phone number, and
  • its name above the front door.

Location of the Shop

702 East Lehman Street

Lebanon, PA 17046

(717) 272-8332

Shuey's sits in a mixed residential and light commercial neighborhood at the corner of East Lehman Street and North Seventh Avenue. (Do not look for it at the intersection with Seventh Street in Lebanon!) A Turkey Hill convenience store and gas station borders it to the east. The shop has no parking lot, just on-street parking. The bakery looks like a very plain house. It is cinder block, which is very gray-looking when it is cloudy, and has a touch of pink when there is sun.

The front of the shop

The front of the shop

The grounds in front of Shuey's. There is no fancy, professionally lettered sign to clue people in that this is the place.

The grounds in front of Shuey's. There is no fancy, professionally lettered sign to clue people in that this is the place.

The side view on Seventh Avenue.

The side view on Seventh Avenue.

Another view of the Seventh Avenue side.

Another view of the Seventh Avenue side.

Local Mennonite Culture

The dress style of the women working at Shuey's strongly suggests that they practice the Mennonite faith. As is very common with many of the Mennonite females in Lebanon County, the women wear long skirts which extend to mid-calf or a smidgen lower. Plain, dark socks and sneakers complete the leg and foot covering. Their tops are modest crew-neckline styles with sleeves. They have long hair gathered into a bun at the top back of their head. The only item of dress missing is a lace prayer cap. Still, I believe that they are Mennonite.

Mennonite men of Lebanon County wear more "conventional" clothing, yet on the conservative side. For example, many of the farmers wear straight-leg blue jeans with a short-sleeved button-down plaid shirt. Suspenders and a straw hat often complete their costume. The male bakers at the shop wore aprons and food handler paper caps, but otherwise could be Mennonite.

There are no tattoos, piercings or body art to be seen.

The fact that the bakery is closed on Sunday could indicate that the owners adhere to a faith which sets aside that day of the week as a non-work day. On the other hand, many of the local independent businesses of Lebanon County close on Sunday, so the shop might be following local custom.

Note the modest dress of the woman at the far left in the photo.

Note the modest dress of the woman at the far left in the photo.

Again, observe the dress of another woman at the left of the picture.

Again, observe the dress of another woman at the left of the picture.

Hours: Until They Are Sold Out

Is this brilliantly wonderful or what? Obviously, the owners are not in danger of following the Peter Principle of business. (The Peter Principle states that a business will continue to expand its operations until it becomes incompetent at performing at its original level of quality.) There seems to be no need to expand here. Shuey's makes good pretzels. It sells them. When the stock is gone, the doors close. End of story. I think it is magnificently civilized.

A unique sign for store hours. Note that there are no closing times.

A unique sign for store hours. Note that there are no closing times.

Prices

As one can see from hand-prepared signs, pretzels come in pre-packed one-pound bags. A one-pound bag of hard beer-style pretzels costs $4.25. Of course, one pound is sufficient if you're serving at a party, but that little bag delivers some of the freshest crunch you will ever taste.

And, sorry, currently (as of February 2019) they do not ship pretzels.

This one-pound bag of beer-style hard pretzels cost $4.25. (Actually, the bag is MINUS one pretzel. Of course I had to eat just one right away, didn't I?)

This one-pound bag of beer-style hard pretzels cost $4.25. (Actually, the bag is MINUS one pretzel. Of course I had to eat just one right away, didn't I?)

The Christmas Season Rush

During the Christmas shopping season, customers line up well before 9 a.m. to purchase pretzel tins for gifts and to order pretzels to be shipped. The doors often close by shortly after nine. The local advice is don't even try to buy Shuey's pretzels in December unless you can go early for the line.

Pretzel tins line the wall of the bakery room

Pretzel tins line the wall of the bakery room

Wonderful Old-Fashioned Shop

There is a Pennsylvania Dutch expression, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Although much of the American culture seems to revel in tearing down or discarding the "old" in favor of getting the very newest and latest version of anything (computers, buildings, cars, equipment, etc.), Shuey's holds the more European value of maintaining and repairing.

Look at the photo of the cash register in the shop. It is a treasure! It is fully functional and does the job.

A glass and wood candy case sits next to the cash register.

A glass and wood candy case sits next to the cash register.

Close-up of the old-fashioned wooden cash register

Close-up of the old-fashioned wooden cash register

Travel Destination in Lebanon, PA

The shop does not ship or deliver pretzels. The only way to buy them is to visit their store.

If you find yourself in Lebanon, PA, on a Wednesday through Saturday morning with a few free minutes, I strongly encourage you to experience the wonder of Shuey's Pretzel shop. I think you will be pleased.

Many thanks go to Shuey's for permitting me to go into the back room.

Questions & Answers

Question: Does Shuey Pretzels ship out of town?

Answer: They neither deliver nor ship. They want to remain a hometown operation with incredibly fresh pretzels.

Question: Are these pretzels made with real butter?

Answer: I doubt it. Pretzels usually don't have a fat like butter or margarine.

Question: Can they be bought anywhere else?

Answer: No, Shuey's pretzels must be bought at their only store.

Question: Can I buy Shuey's Pretzels via phone?

Answer: No, they do not ship.

© 2013 Maren Elizabeth Morgan

Comments

Jayne Wenger on March 14, 2017:

The best!!! So buttery tasting.

Jill Spencer from United States on January 21, 2013:

That's sounds fun, Maren. We could do lunch!

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on January 20, 2013:

Nice to meet you, Gus. Keep your eyes peeled for more food articles from me. And I look forward to trying some of your redneck microwave recipes!

Gustave Kilthau from USA on January 20, 2013:

Howdy Maren (Maren Morgan M-T) -

Sure did enjoy this article. Bet you gained 5 pounds getting the pix and the info to put the hub together, too. At least I would have gained that much just from chomping up on tons of soft Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels. Love 'em. Yes I do.

Gus :-)))

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on January 20, 2013:

Jill, the next trime you are in central PA you had better let me know in advance so that I can MEET you! :-D

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on January 20, 2013:

Sorry all - I now have the cash register photos included.

Maren Elizabeth Morgan (author) from Pennsylvania on January 20, 2013:

cre8ivOne, yes - a good mom and pop shop is GREAT! In the case of a food shop, you can almost taste the love in their products.

Jill Spencer from United States on January 19, 2013:

Maren, next time we're in PA we'll have to stop by Shuey's! Am sharing this. Great job!

cre8ivOne from Midwest, USA on January 19, 2013:

Some mom and pop shops are the BEST! Who doesn't love a warm, soft pretzel?!