How the Founder of Auntie Anne's Drew From Her Amish Upbringing to Start Her Pretzel Empire

Anne Beiler had an upbringing unlike most people.

Anne Beiler had an upbringing unlike most people.

"I grew up on an Amish farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania," she told

It may seem like an unlikely start for someone who would grow up to found Auntie Anne's pretzels, the chain of soft pretzel stands at malls across America.

"There were eight of us kids, mom and dad, and we grew up in this very safe, almost idyllic, maybe, kind of world, and certainly the kind of world that maybe most people have never experienced," Beiler said. 

The farm was hard work, but Beiler said it always felt like fun. She credits her strict Amish country upbringing for her later business success.

"Mom and dad, they took us to church every Sunday. We sat around the dinner table every three times a day every single day. There were no exceptions to the rule. We had no TV or radio."

She added: "My mom and dad had about 40 cows. So we milked them every morning and every night. Before school, I would go out and carry milk."

By the time she was 12, Beiler became the family baker.

"I baked so well that my mom would leave a note on the kitchen table on Thursday night. ... I'd come home from school and she would have a list of pies and cakes that I needed to bake. So I learned how to bake and became a very good baker, and I would bake 60 or 70 pies and cakes by myself in my basement after school."

Her family eventually left the Amish. Beiler married, and she and her husband bought a pretzel stand for $6,000. That business grew. And grew some more. And even more than that.

"I would never have dreamed that I would become a businesswoman, but all of the things I learned on the farm certainly contributed to our success as business people in corporate America," she said. 

Beiler shares her experiences in her new book, "The Secret Lies Within."