National exposure boosts pretzel business (10/29/09)

Oct. 29, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A young Williston entrepreneur’s fiery snack received national exposure Monday morning. That’s when daytime talk show host and Food Network star Rachael Ray highlighted Alec’s Spicy Pretzels on her nationally syndicated Rachael Ray Show.

It was a quick mention, but one Alec Distler and his family hope will introduce the popular snack food outside the Champlain Valley.

Alec’s Spicy Pretzels started out last year as a small, family-run business. It was the brainchild of Alec, then a Williston Central School eighth grader. He now attends Champlain Valley Union High School.

Based on a family recipe, the pretzels are baked with a blend of spices that give the snack a kick and have garnered countless fans in the Williston School District and at CVU.

Alec’s mother, Lynn Distler, said the show’s producers expressed interest in the product and asked Alec if he’d be willing to send in free samples — 150 large bags of pretzels. Each audience member received a bag after the taping of Monday’s show, Lynn Distler said, as did Ray and her staff.

“It was a great little segment,” Lynn Distler said.

The Distlers hope the national exposure will help the business grow. In recent months, the pretzel snacks have been selling in more Champlain Valley convenience stores, as well as at Colchester and South Burlington high schools.

The company has also created a blossoming Internet business at Lynn Distler said the company has shipped pretzels all over the country.

The company expanded over the summer by hiring four part-time helpers and moved its baking operations to Burlington Bay Market, where the Distlers more than quadrupled their production capacity. Lynn Distler hopes Alec’s Spicy Pretzels will further expand into the New England market. She said her son wants to sell the snacks at Fenway Park next baseball season.

“This has been fun for us so far,” Lynn Distler said. “We’re just playing this one day at a time.”