While our recipes are rooted in tradition, our staff is far from traditional.
The majority of our employees are disabled.We proudly represent the LGBTQ community. We are 100% woman-owned, and both WBENC and WOSB certified. Our pretzel recipe was inspired by The Dondero-Foley women, politicians and pioneers. We’re radically inclusive. We believe great ideas can come from anyone and anywhere. We turn to experts. We turn to novices. Friends, family, customers—you name it.
So every time that Port City Pretzel salt hits your tongue, you know there’s someone special behind it.
“Here I am at age 60. Pushing pretzels for a living and loving it.
Just a few years ago, I found myself unemployed and struggling to get back on my feet. When my thoughts turned to family and better times, I remembered the taste that always brought me joy. I took my family’s famous pretzel recipe, and evolved it—adding new flavors, but keeping the love. I started a brand from scratch, infused with everything I believe is important in life.
Over 30 years ago, I couldn’t live without these pretzels. And now, they’ve given me a new purpose.”
Meet Our People
Lupin: Social Media Manager/Writing Assistant
FAVORITE PORT CITY PRETZEL: Feisty Hot
Q. What’s it like to work at Port City Pretzels?
A. I went to school to be a writer, and now I’m finally putting that to use. I’m both blind and trans, and it’s been difficult to find opportunities that really fulfill me. At this job, I’m developing a community around a small business. I help build Portsmouth pride. I get to work with cool people and meet other great groups and organizations we do business with. I’m also keeping up on social media trends. Suzanne has taught me a lot, and she’s also open to my ideas.
Q. What is your role here?
A. I handle all the social media accounts. So Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I’m also working on some longer form writing, like permanent articles on LinkedIn about how we work as a company.
Q. How many times do you use pretzel emojis in your posts?
A. Haha…I try to mix it up. They don’t have pickles or mustard, so that’s a challenge when I’m talking about Tasty Ranch Dill or our new Tangy Mustard ‘N Honey pretzels. I have a computer that talks to me, but sometimes the way it describes emojis isn’t quite right. So I just pull out my big magnifier, take a look for myself and say “Yeah…that’s the one.”
Q. How did you get this job?
A. I found out about the company through New Hampshire Vocational Rehabilitation. My caseworker saw a job posting and I thought it would be a good fit. I started off as an intern so that I could learn the tasks of the position and decide what accessible technology I would need for filing, writing checks and doing other clerical work. After the internship ended and I was officially hired, Suzanne asked if I would take on a new role. I’ve been here for almost a year now.
Q. What is Suzanne like?
A. She’s so lovely. So upbeat! She allows people to find their own groove. She makes sure all of us here have the skills we need to do our jobs well, and then she leaves us alone to do that job. It’s just the right balance of support and independence. There’s no micromanaging. I have the freedom to create, which is wonderful.
Q. What’s your favorite part of your job?
A. I love responding to comments on social media. I start recognizing names. It’s great to meet new followers and then to see them returning to hit “Like” or share or make comments about all the ways they’re enjoying their pretzels.
Q. How would you compare this job to other jobs you’ve had?
A. We’re a business that makes pretzels, but we’re also really cool. There are a lot of other people here who also have disabilities, so from the second I started working here, it felt really homey. There are some bosses that won’t employ a “less-than-normal” because it’s too difficult or takes more time. But people here don’t get hung up on that. It’s like, “I get you guys.”
Q. What else do you want people to know about Port City Pretzels?
A. I really appreciate how Port City Pretzels acts a business, and how Suzanne acts as a boss. The fact that she might have to make accommodations for someone like me. For example, I have a seeing eye dog—my German Shepherd, Pluma. Suzanne had to call the health department to make sure it was ok for Pluma to walk around in certain areas. Other places wouldn’t necessarily do that, but Suzanne didn’t give it a second thought. That’s the kind of person she is.
Q. Does Pluma help you at work?
A. Yes. Although when I’m just sitting at my desk, Pluma gets to lounge under the desk and enjoy herself. But she has to stare at the pretzels on the shelf and think, “Why can’t I have these?”
Vivian: Office Administrative Assistant
FAVORITE PORT CITY PRETZEL: Feisty Hot
Q. How did you start working here?
A. I had been living as “Paul” all my life, and I got to the point where I just couldn’t do that anymore. I knew once I became “Vivian,” the job I was working at during that time would not be a friendly environment. So I started looking for a new job. My first two interviews as Vivian were on the same day—one here, one across town. I was scared to death, but I knew I had to do it. Remarkably, I was offered both jobs. The other one paid a little bit more, but I just felt that this was a better fit. I really liked Suzanne. I like the woman-owned idea. I felt it was right for me. Two years later, I’m still here. So I guess it was.
Q. What did you do before working at Port City Pretzels?
A. I was in the beer business for quite a while. I was actually the first microbrewer in the state of New Hampshire. I went on to start a few of my own ventures, then later worked at a draft beer installation, repair and maintenance company.
Q. What do you do here?
A. I take care of all the office functions and handle customer service. I generate FedEx labels for shipping, I submit payroll—a little bit of everything. I even jump out back on the floor in production, if needed. That’s where I worked when I started here. When this office job popped up, Suzanne asked if I knew anybody for the job. I saw it as an opportunity and a challenge. So I raised my hand and said, “Me.”
Q. What’s it like to work here?
A. I never wake up in the morning and say “Ugh, I’ve got to go to work today.” I really enjoy it. I love all the people here. I like that it’s new and it’s different. I’m constantly busy. I look at the clock and say “I can’t believe it’s noon,” and that’s pretty great. If you’re working and you’re watching the clock and you’re not happy, it’s miserable and it doesn’t matter how much you’re getting paid.
Q. What’s your favorite part of your job?
A. I like being out front and being the face of the company. I’m the first contact for most people here. I’m aware of that. I’m proud and happy about it. I actually took the place of another trans person, so I thought that was pretty remarkable. I don’t think that happens very often.
Q. Would you call Port City Pretzels an inclusive environment?
A. Oh yes. There are some people here who are challenged, and I’ve always enjoyed meeting people who are different and learning and challenging my own perceptions of things. I find that we’re all the same. I’m so impressed with Suzanne for taking the time and effort to do what she does to be inclusive. I love to see that everybody here likes their job and wants to be here. I find it so rewarding.
Q. What is Suzanne like?
A. She’s totally real. She’s not doing all this for any competitive advantage. It’s her belief. It’s her core. She keeps on top of everything, but lets me jump in anywhere she needs me, which gives her a bit more time to focus on growing the company and other things she might not have had time to do before.
Q. So you’re happy here?
A. I couldn’t be any happier that I found this place. I’m quite sure that when I leave here I’m going to be fully retired. I can see being here several more years just because I like it.
Ryan: Production Line Worker
FAVORITE PORT CITY PRETZEL: Tasty Ranch Dill
Q. What’s your favorite Port City Pretzel flavor?
A. That is a good question. I like the ranch flavor because it tastes the best, but at the same time it makes my breath a little weird sometimes. I’m not a big spicy person, but I’ll eat spicy pretzels, I don’t know why. I guess I’m more used to it probably.
Q. Are the pretzels here hard to make?
A. The Feisty Hot pretzels are easy to make and mix all together. It’s the toughest to clean, but I’m used to it. Ranch is kind of in-between. Cinnamon is easy to clean, but really hard to mix together because it’s really heavy with all the sugar. It takes the longest to mix. That’s probably the only struggle I have but other than that, it’s mostly pretty good here.
Q. Do you like baking pretzels?
A. The baking is pretty good. I don’t mind getting messy. It’s good practice. I’m going to have to learn how to cook someday for when I move out. I do a good job with it. I can tolerate it.
Q. What is your favorite part of your job?
A. I like the packing machine and helping stack the shelves and helping move the bags and boxes and load up the trucks. It keeps me awake and alert to move around. I’m usually 90% pretty strong most of the time. I’m able to lift boxes. It’s more awkward than heavy. I have music playing while I’m working, which keeps me going and focused.
Q. How did you find this job?
A. I found this job through Project Search. I was connected through Great Bay Community College. They help people with special needs get jobs. I was working two jobs and decided this job was a little bit better fit. It had flexible hours. It’s a good fit for people both with or without disabilities. I’ve worked here for quite some time now—almost 3 years.
Q. What are the people like here?
A. The people are pretty good and pretty nice. There are certain people who are older than me and there might be some younger than me. Everyone has different skills and does different tasks. It’s interesting that there’s such a variety of different people.
Q. How would you describe Suzanne?
A. She’s really good. She’s pretty relaxed for the most part. She’s pretty good with flexible hours. She’s always good with me and the other employees. We do our best. She gives us feedback, which is good. She asks if anything is too much for me. It’s not. If it was, I would let her know.
Q. Have you met Lupin’s guide dog, Pluma?
A. The Shepherd? Yes. That’s a nice dog. I have a yellow Labrador Retriever mix. Her name is Rosie. I’m her favorite person. I love her. She’s friendly and she’s crazy. When she’s outside without a leash she’ll take off when she gets the chance. She’s 9 but acts like she’s 3.
Q. Your T-shirt says “Ride with Pride.” What does that mean?
A. This is my Six Flags shirt. I love roller coasters 100%. Except there’s one in Florida that hurts my head. But I’d go any day. I used to be really afraid, but I’ve conquered my fears.