Hershey to acquire North Dakota-founded Dot's Pretzels as part of $1.2 billion deal

Dorothy "Dot" Henke founded the business in 2012 from her kitchen in Velva, N.D.

Dot Henke
Dot Henke launched Dot's Pretzels from her kitchen in Velva, N.D., in 2012. According to industry reports, Hershey has entered an agreement to purchase the company for $1.2 billion. Contributed / Dot's Pretzels website.
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VELVA, N.D. — The Hershey Co. announced Wednesday, Nov. 10, it has entered into an agreement to acquire Dot's Homestyle Pretzels and Pretzels Inc. for $1.2 billion, according to , The Wall Street Journal and a Hershey's news release.

"I created my pretzels to share with those people closest to me and have built the business with the idea of sharing them with everyone," founder Dorothy "Dot" Henke said in a news release on the acquisition. "With Hershey behind this amazing brand, I am confident that anyone who would like to enjoy these deliciously bold pretzels will have the opportunity."

Henke said she was first inspired to give a new twist to pretzels after she attended a wedding reception in Max, North Dakota. She noticed the Chex party mix also contained spindle pretzels, which added a buttery flavor and crunch.

Henke bought a packet of spindle pretzels and started experimenting with different spice mixes in her own kitchen in Velva, North Dakota. When she found the perfect blend, she started giving them away to friends and family members. One year, a relative asked her to make a batch of her special-recipe seasoned pretzels for customers in Arizona.

"She handed them out and her phone started ringing off the hook," Henke said in a video on the company's website.


The pretzel proudly marketed as ""a small-town recipe" with "big time flavor," were a hit, Henke told attendees of the 1 Million Cups Fargo event in 2019.

Henke and her husband, Randy, started out attending Pride of Dakota shows and other trade shows. They eventually opened a production facility in their hometown of Velva. By 2015, they opened a plant in Goodyear, Ariz., and in 2017 opened a facility in Lenexa, Kan., because it was a centralized location for distribution.

Dot’s Pretzels is the fastest-growing U.S. pretzel brand among brands with more than $10 million in annual U.S. retail sales, according to Hershey. The company said Dot’s represented 55% of growth in the pretzel category over the past year.

Free samples of Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels were on hand for the 1 Million Cups event on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, at The Stage at Island Park in Fargo. Dorothy and Randy Henke, founders of Dot’s Pretzels, shared their entrepreneurial story during the event. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum landscape

Tammy has been a storyteller most of her life. Before she learned the alphabet, she told stories by drawing pictures and then dictated the narrative to her ever-patient mother. A graduate of North Dakota State University, she has worked as a Dickinson, N.D., bureau reporter, a Bismarck Tribune feature writer/columnist, a Forum feature reporter, columnist and editor, a writer in NDSU's Publications Services, a marketing/social media specialist, an education associate in public broadcasting and a communications specialist at a nonprofit.
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