All for the love of trivia. And craft beer. Oh, and the perfect snack to accompany those two things. That’s how Firesticks Pretzels got their start. Owners Randy & Becky have put a lot of love and fire into their product, and a lot of love comes as a result of the pretzels, too.
Becky started making Firesticks more than 20 years ago for their annual trivia contest, but soon she was making massive batches so that after they all nibbled on the pretzels at the event, they could take some home, too. Some six or so years ago while enjoying craft beers at a local brewery (a frequent pastime of the duo), Randy reminded Becky that her pretzels were way better than what they had for sale. By the end of their ride home that night, they came up with the name, packaging, and branding.
“That was the fun and easy part, we’ve both been in marketing and design for over 20 years (we met at Thelen Advertising in St. Cloud in 1999). It took a few years to get serious about the idea, including the logo design, trademarking, and finding a co-packer to actually produce the pretzels. In late 2019, we found a co-packer, signed a lease on a warehouse space near Crossroads Mall, took out a line of credit with Kensington Bank in St. Cloud, and ordered 100,000 units of trays and sleeves for our packaging.”
“Our first official taproom sale was on April 1st, 2020 to our good friends at Bad Habit Brewing. In July of that year, we were on a sales trip to Duluth when we struck up a conversation with another patron, Dave Hubbard, at a taproom. We discussed Firesticks and found out he was a salesperson located in the Chicago area. He contacted us the next day and asked if he could sell for us in Illinois and places he traveled to for his day job. He believed in us and our product. Since he was willing to work on commission only and we liked him, too, a deal was struck. Dave’s been an essential part of getting us into many locations in IL and cities in 9 other states.”
In addition to being a delicious, savory snack for whatever beverage you’re sipping, Firesticks Pretzels is also striving to do good things, such as working with St. Cloud-based WACOSA, which works for adults with disabilities. “We reached out to Ann Kennedy at WACOSA when we realized that folding the bottom trays for packaging – they come completely flat and have to be scored and folded to create the finished product – was way too much for us to keep up with. And, this summer, Firesticks donated a total of $7,000 to the Cold Spring Fire Department, St. Joseph Fire Department, and the Sauk Rapids Fire Department. So far this fall we donated our product to the Rocori Food Shelf to sell for their fundraiser at Third Street’s Oktoberfest, and also to the Cold Spring Elementary Parents Association for their fundraiser.” So when you purchase Firesticks Pretzels, you’re helping spread the good.
“We’ve been fortunate to have worked in the St. Cloud area for over 20 years and throughout that time, we’ve gotten to know many people that have been so helpful when we started out and as we continue to grow. Our experience at Thelen Advertising introduced us to vendors that we’ve worked with on our new venture, including Rengel Printing, Palmer Printing, Digital Printing Plus, Mustang Graphics, WACOSA, Kensington Bank, LP Caslon, and SpeeDee Delivery. And most importantly, we’d like to thank all the taprooms in Central Minnesota that we’re honored to have as customers, and also our friends, family, and neighbors that have purchased Firesticks from our website. People in Central MN are very kind, hard-working, and generous.”
“We’d like to think that Firesticks are a craft snack, kind of like the craft beers we enjoy at the taprooms we visit locally and on our travels. As for us, we’re basically a nice couple who took a risk on their dream. And a big part of that dream is to continually give back to our community and hopefully make a difference where we live.”