From a single store selling hot pretzels in the Layton Hills Mall, Pretzelmaker has grown to nearly 100 units across 20 states and in Canada since franchising two years ago. Projected sales for 1994 for the company are $12.5 million.

The hot pretzels are the idea of Jeffery Tripp, who opened the first Pretzelmaker in the Layton shopping mall in 1991.After running the store for a year, Tripp was approached by businessman Chuck Smith about franchising the idea. Tripp agreed, and Smith put together a team with experience in franchise marketing.

With 93 stores operating, the company expects to hit 100 franchises early next year, according to marketing vice president Kelly Hansen.

Hansen said the firm looks to locate pretzel stores in large, regional shopping malls. It prefers a location in a high-traffic area of the mall rather than in the food courts that are becoming popular, Hansen said.

"Pretzels are an impulse item, and sales depend on heavy foot traffic, which is found in large shopping malls," he said.

In addition to numerous shopping malls around Utah, Pret-zel-makers are also located in the Delta Center and at Franklin Quest Field in Salt Lake City, Hansen said.

Smith said hot pretzels are the snack food of the '90s. "Our pretzel stores are one of the hottest items going into shopping malls right now. We have mall developers from around the country calling us to get one of our stores in their malls," said Smith.

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With stores in 20 states, including Hawaii, and now Canada, Smith said the chain's "tremendous growth has surpassed even our wildest dreams."

The soft hot pretzels are made of all-natural ingredients, free of cholesterol and low in fat, according to Tripp. Several toppings are available, ranging from cin-na-mon/

sugar to garlic and pizza sauce.

"Soft pretzels are quickly becoming the snack food of choice," said Tripp.

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