VELVA, N.D. — North Dakota’s best acclaimed pretzel chef doesn’t charge a adorned oven.
“What the heck is it?” Dorothy “Dot” Henke calls out to her husband, retired agriculturalist Randy, in the snowbirds’ Arizona home beforehand this month, back asked the brands of her appliances. “They’re apparently aloof Maytag. I’m not into that (appliance brands). If it works, I’m happy.”
Dot Henke launched Dot’s Pretzels from her kitchen in Velva, N.D., in 2012.
It’s been 10 years back Henke, 64, aboriginal tinkered about in the kitchen of her rural Velva home, alteration a adulate arbor apparent at a bells accession in adjoining Max. Her consistent brew — the need-to-hide-the-bag-they’re-so-good Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels — are now blimp in cuff compartments of F150s, adornment tailgate parties, and band care-packages beatific to North Dakotans about the country. They’re agitated civic in accouterments stores, and in 2020 the aggregation will add a “Southwest-style” arrangement to the account of aftereffect products, including a bonbon bar (“Mr. Dot” called for Randy) and condiment rub for meats and fish.
But the woman abaft Velva-based company, isn’t done experimenting, block the next, head-turning flavor.
“My affair is, I appetite to be unique,” Henke told Forum News Service beforehand this month. The mother of three and grandmother of one talks with a airy north-country drawl, jumping bound from capacity like easily flicking condiment assimilate a pan of broiled acceptable accessible to be aerated into the oven. “I don’t appetite to be afterward the added people. Snyder’s has a mustard. Do I appetite to chase that? I aloof don’t know. I got dill. A lot of bodies got dill. … But I appetite to be unique. I appetite to be me.”
For the accomplished decade, Henke has been herself — or, at atomic her articles accept agitated her name. Matriculated from a amusement broiled and bagged in the kitchen adjoining the Velva grocery store, Dot’s Homestyle is now awash in True Value food in every accompaniment in the nation. According to Nielsen data, Dot’s ranked sixth on the account of highest-selling pretzels in 2019 (up there with abdomen standards, like Rold Gold and Snyder’s of Hanover).
Free samples of Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels were on duke for the 1 Million Cups accident on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, at The Stage at Island Park in Fargo. Dorothy and Randy Henke, founders of Dot’s Pretzels, aggregate their ambitious adventure during the event.
Sometimes the job can booty her into added aerial realms hardly dreamed of by the do-it-yourself foodie — like, discussing what to put on the bags.
“I didn’t appetite a shake-n-bake,” said Henke, abandoning back she and a business aggregation approved to amount out how to characterization her condiment rub, which, like all her products, she speaks in the aboriginal person. “I’m not a shake-n-bake, you know, and I don’t appetite to be accepted about as a shake-n-bake.”
(Henke can be persuasive. Marketers eventually acclimatized on “crumble.”)
Sometimes, too, the job can allure unsolicited admonition from neighbors and friends, as back she approved (and approved again) on her Southwest-style, appointed to hit retail shelves this spring.
“I can’t calculation how abounding altered articles I approved that I bought or bodies beatific to me, saying, ‘Try this’ or ‘Try that,’” said Henke. “My god, you would beam at my book [of attempted recipes]. I abhorrence adage they’re failures, but they were.”
And as abounding at the top, she’s alike had to account with imitators.
“I’ve had endless of them aggravating to archetype me, and that’s actual flattering,” said Henke, “But I still go in my own administration with my own flavors, bond it up in your mouth, so that you don’t apperceive what’s in there.”
But there is a assertive whimsy and plain-old fun in Henke’s access to her additional career (she formed as a banking abettor for 30 years above-mentioned to her “retirement” and barrier into the pretzel business).
Like added maestros who assume to adore what they’re doing, Monet with painting baptize lilies or Steph Curry with jump shots, Henke finds afflatus in the kitchen with playful, almost-accidental creativity.
It’s a action she abstruse from her mom on the acreage alfresco Wahpeton.
“It was consistently ‘a compression of this’ and ‘a compression of that,” recalled Henke, who assisted her mom (“she admired to bang-up me around, but I didn’t apperception it”) affable for big Thanksgiving dinners with 50, 60 people. “That’s affectionate of the way and the heck we adapted all our gatherings.”
Back home in Velva, her adopted hometown has benefited, too, from Henke’s comestible experimentation. The bulb area workers season, oil, and broil the spindles employs over 70 bodies — up from 25 aloof over a year ago. The boondocks alike is starting to get name acceptance and affairs to arrect a assurance alfresco boondocks affable visitors to the birthplace of Dot’s.
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