By Jessica Kartalija

READING, Pa. (CBS) — From soft pretzels to those with a good crunch, Reading has been home to many pretzel companies over the years. So much so it’s been referred to as “The Pretzel City.”

Philadelphia might be famous for its soft pretzels, but the home of the snack pretzel is Reading.

Reading was once considered the pretzel capital of the world.

“At one time my grandfather told me there were 26 different pretzel bakeries in Reading,” Bruce Sturgis said.

Sturgis is the great-great-grandson of Julius Sturgis, who started the pretzel baking industry in the U.S. in 1861.

“We’re a small family pretzel bakery that’s just been around a long time,” Sturgis said.

His grandfather, Tom Sturgis, brought the business to Reading in 1946 and they’ve been busy baking pretzels ever since.

Just a few minutes away is another family-owned pretzel company. The Spannuths started their business in 1921, but they opted not to use their name and chose something unique instead.

“Unique Pretzels are not just a regular pretzel-shaped cracker, they are very different, they are more artisanal. They take time to make. We are the first to make a lot of different pretzel products in the industry,” said Tamra Fisher, of Unique Pretzels.

Their most popular pretzel is the original split which was actually created by mistake.

“So while it’s baking, it splits open and has deep crevices and hollow pockets that are crunchy and full of flavor,” explained Fisher.

Since then they’ve created several popular pretzel varieties.

“We also made the first hollow pretzel which is our pretzel shell and then we also introduced our new sourdough beer craft pretzel,” Fisher said.

Whether you like them split, hollow, extra dark or extra small, the pretzel companies in Reading are baking up plenty of delicious options.

Jessica Kartalija