Auntie Anne's Success and Private Tragedy

The founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Anne Beiler, offers a candid and heartbreaking memoir of breakout commercial success and personal tragedy in "Twist of Faith."

Beiler weaves together the story of her company's growth from a farm market to a multinational corporation, with flashbacks of her private life in Texas as she struggled through adultery and the death of one of her children.

Her unwavering faith and perseverance throughout it all make for a truly inspiring read.

You can read an excerpt from Chapter One below:

My Angie

I walked a mile with Pleasure / She chatted all the way
But left me none the wiser / For all she had to say
I walked a mile with Sorrow / And ne'er a word said she
But, oh, the things I learned from her / When Sorrow walked with me!

—Robert Browning Hamilton

And just like that, the journey ended. I had covered so much ground during those years, walked so many miles. I went through the darkness, at times unsure if I would make it. I also walked the mountaintops and accomplished more than I ever dreamed possible. Do journeys always seem to end so abruptly? This one did. One moment I was caught up in running a business, and the next moment suddenly we were walking away from it: after seventeen years and building over eight hundred locations, we decided to sell Auntie Anne's Soft Pretzels.

One moment represented the climax of that journey's end: my husband, Jonas, and I sat alone on a stage at the annual Auntie Anne's convention, in front of nearly one thousand franchisees, corporate employees, and family members. I felt as though nearly everyone fit into the last category: family. In many ways those franchisees and employees served as family through the years. We spent holidays with them, attended their weddings and their funerals, and sent congratulations on the arrival of children and grandchildren.

I desperately clung to Jonas's hand. He began his adult life as a mechanic by trade, something that fit into his true calling: fixing things. Initially this worked itself out in his life when he owned a body shop, beating old cars into shape. Eventually he channeled his efforts into counseling, tuning the engines of broken lives, making them purr again. I think when most people meet him, they see his serious side, his compassion. What many people don't see is that really he's just a little boy, downright silly at times. Sitting beside me on the stage, he made me feel strong and capable.

Some of my oldest and dearest friends talked about when they first started with Auntie Anne's. Their stories about broken-down delivery vans and grand opening day disasters put all of us in hysterics. But they also told stories that made me cry, stories about the changing of fortunes, how Auntie Anne's altered their lives for good, forever.

Two of our first franchisees in the South told their story of wanting to open a location in spite of our hesitancies. "You're too far away," we told them. "We're not ready to incorporate a store that far away into our infant distribution system."

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