UI grad student creates chocolate-covered pretzel business

By Maddie Galassi

When the savory, rich taste of chocolate is combined with the crisp, saltiness of pretzels, a delectable snack is created for anyone with a sweet tooth or salt craving.

Rebecca Hoke, graduate student in Social Work, is putting a twist on the common snack by starting her own gourmet chocolate-covered pretzel service.

Hoke discovered the idea in December, when her friend found a picture of chocolate-covered pretzels on Pinterest and said she wanted them as favors for her baby shower. This gave Hoke another idea: making them herself.

“In high school, I did a project about cake decorating and pastry making, so I had a little bit of background on working with melted foods,” Hoke said. “I made chocolate-covered pretzels once but had never done anything like this before. I made them for the shower, and they were a huge hit and everyone kept telling me how nice they were and that I could sell them.”

After the baby shower, Hoke hit the ground running. She created a Facebook page to attract more customers and try out new ideas.

In the five months since her start, Hoke has made pretzels for holidays, baby showers and even adorned some of the treats in green for an Unofficial celebration.

Hoke’s boyfriend, Jaron Frisina, a parttime Parkland College student, is helping with her pretzel ventures.

“(We) will just sit down for an evening and melt chocolates and do rotations,” Frisina said. “An entire tray probably takes us five or ten minutes, from melting the chocolate to putting them in the fridge.”

Making the pretzels has become a bonding experience for the couple and an activity that they can enjoy and experience together, Frisina said.

“When we make them we don’t go fast, we just take our time. It’s a nice night together,” Frisina said. “We like to do it together because it’s time we get to spend in each other’s company, because each of us are constantly doing other things.”

Pat Becker, a co-worker of Hoke’s at the University, was one of her first clients.

“Someone in our building brought some pretzels to work for everyone to have,” Becker said. “They were delicious, and I decided I wanted to take some to my family party. I knew I could depend on (Hoke) when I needed them.”

Hoke made the sweet treats for Becker’s Easter party, where Becker said they proved to be a hit.

“Becca’s pretzels were frosted in different pastels, and they made a beautiful display,” Becker said. “Everyone commented on how pretty they were and how great they tasted.”

For now, Hoke said she is continuing to expand her customer base and try out new ideas for pretzel designs.

“I haven’t had a chance to make a lot of other cute ideas that I have, I’m just waiting for opportunities,” Hoke said. “I’ve always wanted to make them for a wedding.”

Hoke said she is making pretzels for a friend’s daughter’s upcoming birthday party as a substitute for a cake.

She said the pretzels are a good alternative because it is less messy for children, and she can still make them in any color.

Hoke and Frisina are planning on passing out samples of their treats on the Main Quad in the upcoming weeks, something they want students to keep an eye out for.

The pretzels can be made in a total of three different sizes: rods, big twists and bite-sized, all in the customer’s color of choice.

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