A snack that has become a staple for so many across the country has its roots right here in western North Dakota.
Nearly a decade since its inception, the company’s website estimates that more than a billion of these pretzels have been eaten across the country.
The woman behind what some people call the perfect pretzels is a farm girl, a native Wahpeton girl, and she’s someone you should know this week.
Dorothy Henke never actually went from ‘Dot’ until it became the namesake of her hearty snack.
Next April, it will be 10 years since Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels came into the mouths of many and became a hit …
“Consumers were probably the most fun and got us to keep going,” said Dot.
Becky Farr visited the founding factory in Velva in 2019 and learned about the history of Dot.
In short, she just gave them to friends and family and it was at a Pride of Dakota show in Williston that she and her pretzel partner – her husband Randy – realized that Dot’s Homestyle pretzels should be shared on a larger scale.
Dot said, “The more shows we did, the more people we saw who said, ‘Dot’s is here! Yay!’ And that was the funny thing. “
“The shows are a craze,” said Randy. “You’re treated like a rock star, that’s crazy. Everyone who comes up to you has a story. Everyone.”
The company has grown quite a bit over the past nine years, with pretzels on the shelves in all 50 states and four factories in three states.
They were conveniently created in Dot’s own kitchen and she never imagined they would become as popular as they are today.
At first she worked 100 hours a week enjoying the job she stumbled upon in retirement.
“I did absolutely everything,” said Dot. “And I enjoyed every minute. I was busy, probably too busy. “
Baked to the point, she did the sales, packaging, shipping, payroll and bookkeeping.
About 30 years of finance and insurance work sure helped, but she says she couldn’t have done it without her significant other.
“My husband Randy was definitely my rock,” she said. “There were times when I said, ‘Oh my god, I don’t know which way to go’ and we talked about how we did it with the farm. We talked things over, try it … 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 spending time with her family, gardening, and looking after her flowers, and her role as the founder of Dot’s Pretzels means less time at work and more time on research and development.
The courtyard is where the snacks we all know and love were developed and will be future ones too.
So what’s the secret of success?
Be true to who you are. Randy said, “I knew she was always very engaged and all-in. All-in, all the time.”
And of course keeping the hundreds of recipes Dot has created over the years.
“You can’t give everything away,” said Dot with a smile.
“We were really lucky to have such a unique product that was basically self-propelling,” said Randy. “The customers were relentless,” he laughed. “So it was like OK … we can do more.”
“There’s always a different story and it’s always so fun to listen to,” Dot said, referring to the consumer.
Dorothy “Dot” Henke is someone you should know.