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Luverne man’s seasoned pretzels catching on

Larry Lanphere poses with his "Bretzels." (Special to The Globe)1 / 2
Pictured are Papa Larry's packages in ACE Hardware in Worthington. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / The Globe)2 / 2

LUVERNE — It started as a stalwart snack at family gatherings, but Larry Lanphere’s seasoned pretzels have slowly made their way onto shelves in main street businesses.

Papa Larry’s Seasoned Bretzels can be found in a dozen businesses, mostly in Luverne. Larry got his first Worthington client recently, when ACE Hardware began selling his pretzels.

The explosively flavorful seasoning recipe was derived from a family member, and Larry and his wife Jane worked exhaustively to refine the taste, with their relatives happily serving as taste testers.

“We started making them for family get-togethers, and everybody loved them on my side and Jane’s side,” Larry said. “They gave us their honest opinions, and we followed their directions until we finally hit it.”

The end result is a sweet and spicy pretzel. Larry can say it contains a hint of cayenne, but he won’t give away any more secrets about the closely guarded recipe.

Jane’s uncle Hal Wildung, a retired high school teacher from the Twin Cities, was the first to suggest selling the salty snacks — an idea that hadn’t entered Larry or Jane’s minds.

“Why aren’t you selling these? These are worthy to be sold,” he said.

Spurred on, Larry began selling the pretzels at events in and around Luverne, and word quickly spread. Larry and Jane were no longer just providing relatives with flavored pretzels — soon enough, they needed a larger operation to keep up with the increased demand.

“We just kept going and going, and we kept getting calls from people asking how they could buy them,” Larry said.

In wanting to take the business to the next level, Larry obtained a commercial license in April. He then contracted with Luverne restaurant Bluestem, equipped with an industrial kitchen, to prepare and package the Bretzels.

The move took the pretzels out of Larry’s hands and moved the operation out of the kitchen, much to the delight of Jane.

“Jane is probably the happiest woman to get me out of her kitchen,” Larry said with a laugh. “I did it the old way — I had bowls out and left the herbs and spices soak into the pretzels. I had eight bowls to make eight batches in her kitchen area, and boy, she is so happy to get me out of there.”

The “Bretzel” name comes from Larry’s French heritage — a direct translation for “pretzel.” The “Papa Larry” name is derived from the nickname given to Larry by his grandkids.

“It just stuck,” Larry said.

The “Bretzels” get compared to Dot’s Pretzels, which were created by a North Dakota resident who similarly started by sharing them with friends and family.

“Try a Dot’s and try ours’, see which one you like,” Larry said.

Larry and Jane plan to release a new packaging in the coming months, and start selling Bretzels in South Dakota when they obtain a South Dakota license.

“This has really been growing,” Larry said. “We’re hoping to keep it going.”