If you have been to a mall or shopping center in the past 35 years, you are likely familiar with Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. While you may have enjoyed some of these warm, tasty treats, you likely don’t know the story of the woman whose name has become synonymous with this franchise, which now spans 49 states across America. Mike Linch sits down with “Auntie” Anne Beiler, who has a remarkable story of loss, pain, and despair that was transformed into one of hope, freedom, and healing.
Like many “American Dream” stories, Anne Beiler’s had humble beginnings – albeit personally challenging ones. She and her husband went through some difficult times, losing a 19-month daughter in a tragic farming accident, then growing distant as they endured the pain separately, in silence. Anne sought the counsel of a pastor, who took advantage of her vulnerability, to manipulate and abuse her for years. She later shared this with her husband, and the two sought counseling together. God restored their marriage, and her husband, Jonas, felt compelled to help others who were suffering from the same despair they had experienced. He had a vision to help provide free counseling services to their community. To help support and fund this endeavor, Anne bought a stand at a farmer’s market in Downington, Pennsylvania in 1988, where she made and sold soft pretzels. Auntie Anne’s was born.
Even as her business grew into the world’s largest pretzel franchise, Anne continued to deal with depression, with secrets keeping her in darkness. Desperate to find healing, she began to share her story publicly – and she began to feel lighter! Anne discovered a new passion to help other women experience this freedom, and in 2005 she sold her business to give her the time to speak to others on leadership, purpose, and the power of confession.