JoJo’s Pretzels Closes in on 25 Years of Pretzel Perfection
Writer/Photographer Ali Snyder
JoJo’s Pretzels is the true definition of a family business. When owner Levi King opened the doors in Shipshewana in 1989, he knew he wanted to change the pretzel industry, and that is exactly what he did. The name comes from his wife Joanna, better known as JoJo, who also owns and operates the business to this day. Together, with their family, they have successfully run the most popular pretzel company in the area.
The business began inside the Davis Mercantile building and the Kings would frequently attend local fairs and festivals with their pretzel wagon. As their reputation grew, so did the demand for more hands to help bake fresh pretzels on the daily. Fast forward to today and you will find their children and their spouses playing a huge role in keeping things running steadily.
However, things have not always been smooth sailing for JoJo’s Pretzels. In 2004, their location inside the Davis Mercantile was destroyed by a fire. The King family did not let that stop them from continuing to pursue their dreams. With the community rallying behind them, and the drive to keep going, the JoJo’s team reopened in 2006 inside the new Davis Mercantile building. When the re-opening day finally came, they recall it as being a moment they will never take for granted.
What kept the customers coming back, and continues to keep them coming back, is of course, the delicious, buttery pretzels.
“The top selling item is for sure the original pretzel with salt and butter, paired with our homemade cheddar cheese. And, of course, served with an ice-cold coke,” Mariah Contreres says, the daughter of Levi and Joanna.
The famous recipe was created with their Amish roots and homegrown lifestyle at the core. As you walk in the doors you’ll find a fun, upbeat environment full of people having a bite to eat and enjoying each other’s company. The atmosphere is friendly and loving, with tables full of smiling faces ranging in age from young to old.
The walls are lined with nostalgic signage, like the Coca Cola Bottling Company sign. There is plenty of seating in the bright red booths that go along with the red paint covering the walls. As soon as you walk in, you will get a whiff of the pretzels and other delicious items being freshly baked. The vibe reminds you of taking a trip down memory lane. The setting is rustic, like a 50’s diner, but also has the feeling of “Amish country” with wooden beams and ceilings. Take a look around and you will find plenty of unique old-time metal signs decorating the walls.
When you approach the counter to order, you will be greeted with giant smiles from the JoJo’s Pretzels team. If you are a regular customer, you likely know what your go-to favorite is. If not, they are glad to explain the options to you and help you make a choice.
Besides the famous butter and salt pretzel, you can choose from a variety of delicious pretzel flavors. Some of the fan favorites include cinnamon and sugar, parmesan, garlic, sour cream and onion, dill pickle and whole wheat. You can buy them individually or treat your friends and family to a half dozen or dozen. The shop has plenty of dips to pair with your pretzel like Amish peanut butter, icing, cream cheese, pizza sauce, Nutella and cream cheese. If you are looking for a gluten free pretzel option they are happy to accommodate. You can also get an order of pretzel bites sprinkled with your favorite topping.
Perhaps you are hungry for more than just a pretzel. JoJo’s offers scrumptious meals as well. When browsing the menu, you will find sandwiches such as chicken salad croissant, cranberry and pecan chicken, smoked chicken croissant, all beef hot dog and all beef chili dog. They also offer daily homemade chili and the soup of the day in a cup or a bowl.
Don’t forget to add an ice-cold beverage to your order. JoJo’s is known for their glass bottled Coca-Cola, but there are plenty of others to pick from. You can order a small, medium, or large drink like root beer, sweet tea, unsweet tea, Sprite, lemonade and raspberry tea. If you want to enhance it a bit, try adding a flavoring such as cherry, vanilla, green river or blue raspberry.
Once you finish your pretzel or meal you can choose from one of their delicious desserts. Some of the popular items are the vanilla ice cream, or the flavor of the month, served in a cup or cone. Their vanilla sundaes are a hit among customers and you can add toppings like chocolate, Oreos, strawberries, caramel, Reese’s and whipped cream. No matter what you choose at JoJo’s you are sure to leave satisfied and happy.
The King family has always been generous in giving back to the community with their kindness, support and of course, pretzels! JoJo’s is also very involved with educating students about their business and teaching them the process of hand rolling a fresh pretzel. The company offers field trips where you will learn the story of JoJo’s Pretzels in a unique setting. If you are not a student but still want to learn the art of pretzel making, you can schedule a group event with sizes ranging from 10-30 people. For only $6 per adult, you will receive a small soft drink or coffee, a pretzel, cheese dip and the full story and experience.
The King family has served guests from all over the world and don’t have any plans on slowing down. As the children begin to take larger roles in the business, they say passing on their mom and dad’s legacy is one of the most rewarding things to see. King’s daughter, Mariah, and son, Jaimeson, have big plans to officially take over the business one day.
If you are not in the Shipshewana area you can find their second location in downtown Goshen. They offer the same delicious menu items in a smaller, yet similar, building. Next time you are looking for a quick bite to eat, make a trip to JoJo’s.
The main location in Shipshewana is located at 255 N. Harrison St. Their telephone number is (260) 768-7759. You can learn more about their business by visiting JoJosPretzels.com or by following them on Facebook @JoJosPretzels