A snack that has become a staple for so many all across the country, is rooted right here in western North Dakota.
Nearly a decade since its inception, the company’s website estimates more than a billion of these pretzels have been eaten across the country.
The woman behind what some people may call the perfect pretzels is a farm girl, a Wahpeton native and she is this week’s Someone You Should Know.
Dorothy Henke actually never went by ‘Dot’ until it became the namesake of her savory snack.
Next April will mark 10 years since Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels hit the mouths of many and became a hit…and it’s thanks to the customers that the Pride of Dakota product is on store shelves across the nation.
“The consumers were probably the most fun and made us keep going,” Dot said.
Becky Farr got to visit the founding factory in Velva back in 2019 and that’s when she learned the story of how Dot’s came to be.
In short, she just gave them to friends and family and it was at a Pride of Dakota show in Williston when she and her pretzel-partner – her husband, Randy – realized that Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels should be shared on a bigger scale.
Dot said, “The more shows we did, the more people we saw who said, ‘Dot’s is here! yay!’ And that was the fun thing.”
“The shows are a hoot,” Randy said. “You get treated like a rockstar, it’s crazy. Everybody that comes up to you has a story. Everybody.”
The company has grown quite a bit in the past nine years with the pretzels on store shelves in all 50 states and four factories in three states.
They were created from the comfort of Dot’s own kitchen and she could have never imagined that they’d become as popular as they are today.
At the start, she’d work 100 hours a week and was enjoying the job she’d stumbled upon in retirement.
“I absolutely did everything,” Dot said. “And I loved every minute of it. I was busy, probably too busy.”
Dot baked, she did the sales, packaging, shipping, payroll, and accounting.
About 30 years of finance and insurance work sure did help but she says she couldn’t have done it without her better half.
“My husband Randy was definitely my rock,” she said. “There were times when I would be like ‘oh my god I don’t know which way to go,’ and we’d talk it over like we did the same thing with the farm. We’d talk things over, try to make the best decision. Sometimes, [it was a] fail, sometimes it was the best thing we did.”
Speaking of the farm, that’s where she spends most of her time when she’s not a snowbird in Arizona.
She loves to spend time with her family, garden and tend to her flowers, and her role as Founder of Dot’s Pretzels means less time at work and more time for research and development.
The farmstead is where the snacks we all know and love were developed and where future ones will be, too.
So what’s the secret to success?
Staying true to who you are. Randy said, “I knew she was always really dedicated and all in. All in, all the time.”
And, of course, safekeeping of the hundreds of recipes Dot has created over the years.
“You can’t give away everything,” Dot said with a smile.
“We’ve been really fortunate that we’ve had such a unique product that has basically driven itself,” said Randy. “Customers were relentless,” he laughed. “So it was like OK…we can do more.”
“There’s always another story, and they’re always so much fun to listen to,” Dot said, reflecting on the consumers.
Dorothy “Dot” Henke is Someone You Should Know.
To look at an exclusive taste-test of a flavor that doesn’t (yet) exist, click here.