9 Secrets Auntie Anne's Doesn't Want You to Know
Everyone's been swayed at one time or another by the buttery aroma wafting out of the ubiquitous Auntie Anne's locations in America's malls. Auntie Anne's has many positive aspects to its business model and history. For instance, every pretzel the company sells is baked fresh on location. And, the company is named for a real person, Anne Beiler, who opened her first pretzel stand back in 1988, and the name Auntie Anne's honors her stunning 30-plus nieces and nephews.
On the other hand, there are a few things Auntie Anne's probably doesn't want you to know. If, once a bit better informed, you still enjoy the occasional soft, salty pretzel c/o Auntie Anne's, that's your choice—just try to make the operative that word "occasional." Here are nine secrets the company would prefer you to forget.
Plus, if you're hungry for a larger meal, be sure to skip the 8 Worst Fast-Food Burgers to Stay Away From Right Now.
The pretzels are packed with sodium
The CDC's current guidelines for adults advise that American adults should consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. A single Auntie Anne's Original Pretzel has 990 milligrams of sodium, or 41% of your total daily amount. A jalapeño pretzel has 1,060 milligrams of sodium. And an Auntie Anne's Sour Cream & Onion Pretzel has 1,240 milligrams.
The lemonade is a sugar bomb
An average adult woman in good health should consume no more than 25 grams of sugars per day, while a healthy adult male should have no more than 36 grams of sugar daily, per current American Heart Association guidelines. By those metrics, no one should ever finish an Old Fashioned Lemonade from Auntie Anne's. Even their smallest 16-ounce serving has a whopping 46 grams of sugar.
The company never intended to be mall-centric
These days, it's hard to disassociate Auntie Anne's and the American shopping mall. According to Restaurant Business Online, shortly before the pandemic (which has been devastating for malls and mall tenants—more on that soon), there were roughly 1,200 malls in the United States and there was an Auntie Anne's in about 650 of them, AKA half. But that was never the planned business model for the chain. When the company was just starting out, opening in nontraditional locations like a shopping mall was simply cheaper.
Auntie Anne's is owned by a major conglomerate
What started as a one-off pretzel stand is no longer anything akin to a family-run operation. Auntie Anne's, which has a major national and international presence, by the way, was bought out in 2010 by Focus Brands, according to National Restaurant News. Focus Brands operates chains including Cinnabon, Carvel, Jamba, and Schlotzsky's.
The pandemic hit the chain hard
Even as many fast-food chains saw their business boom during the pandemic, Auntie Anne's saw its revenues take a nosedive. According to Restaurant Business Online, the chain saw sales plummet a devastating 38% system-wide in 2020 as malls were shuttered and the foot traffic the franchises depend on disappeared. Auntie Anne's turned both to co-branding locations with sister company Jamba Juice and to drive-thru service where possible.
Some Auntie Anne's pretzels are dripping in saturated fat
According to Healthline, saturated fat is bad for human health because it contributes to heart disease, inflammation, potential cancer development, and more. The American Heart Association recommends no more than about 20 grams daily on average. An Auntie Anne's Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel has seven grams of saturated fat, or more than a third of your daily allotment. A Pepperoni Pretzel has eight. And a Pretzel Dog has nine, or nearly half.
The chain's founder had a very dark time in her life
Following a tragic accident that led to the death of her youngest child, Auntie Anne's founder Anne Beiler fell into a years-long depression that nearly ruined her life, according to Fox News. Beiler almost left her husband and nearly lost her faith, which had been a major component of her life prior to the accident. Eventually, Beiler regained her sense of self and turned to business.
The signature recipe was created by accident
Today, the trusted taste of an Auntie Anne's Original Pretzel is replicated tens of thousands of times each and every day, but that taste only came into being due to an accident one fateful day, as told to Fox News by Melanie Auxer, VP of food science and technology at Auntie Anne's. While dealing with a batch of the wrong ingredients after a misplaced order, someone from within the company suggested an addition that would cement the beloved and proprietary recipe for years to come.
The pretzels present a serious danger for diabetics
Generally considered a healthier snack than potato chips, pretzels are still hardly a good choice if you have diabetes or are at risk for developing it. According to Johnson Memorial Health, "most brands of pretzels contain the same ingredients—white flour, yeast, salt, vegetable oil and corn syrup," and ingredients like these "will send blood sugars soaring."
Plus, Auntie Anne's pretzels are not equivalent to a handful of dry pretzels. Even the original contains 65 grams of carbs, only 2 grams of blood-sugar regulating fiber, 3 grams of saturated fat (unless you leave off the butter), and 990 milligrams of sodium. And those innocent-looking nuggets have even more calories and carbs. So if you're going to indulge, be sure to share.
READ MORE: The Best & Worst Pretzel at Auntie Anne's