1949 | Growing Up Amish
Eli and Amanda welcomed Anne Fern into their lives on a chilly winter night in January 1949. Anne is one of eight children and grew up Amish Mennonite on a small farm in Lancaster County. It was during her childhood on the farm where she learned important lessons that later influenced her leadership in the business world – hard work, importance of family, and treating others with respect to name a few.
1968 | The Man of Her Dreams
It was love at first sight, or should we say love at first walk? As young Amish Mennonite teenagers, Anne and her soon to be husband Jonas would join in the old school games with their friends. One game in particular, Walk a Mile, was especially fun because you got to walk in pairs (boy and girl) for a mile. Jonas asked Anne to join him and the rest is history. They married in September of 1968. Anne’s dream of getting married and being a wife were coming true. Shortly after being married, their first daughter – LaWonna Lyn – was welcomed into the world. Her younger sister Angie wasn’t far behind. Anne couldn’t have been happier.
1975 | Sweet Angie
It was a normal September morning. Anne was preparing breakfast for her two little girls. Angie, with her blond curls bouncing, headed out the front door to visit her Grandma who lived on the property. It was moments later that Anne’s entire life would be turned upside down. As Angie made her way to Grandmas a farm tractor struck her. The driver didn’t see her. Angie died instantly. Soon after, Anne sought the help of her local pastor, but was sexually abused in their first counseling session. Anne’s life would never be the same. After seven years of darkness, abuse, a failing marriage, and a broken family, Anne and Jonas began to repair their life together. After seeing the benefit of counseling in their own marriage, Jonas desired to help others in the same way. He began offering counseling free of charge to the local community and Anne got a job to support his dream.
1988 | Better Than the Best
In support of her husband, Anne began working at a local farmers market. Soon after, they decided to start their own stand at Downingtown Farmers Market. The little stand sold pizza, ice cream, and pretzels, however the pretzels were terrible! In fact, Anne almost stopped selling them entirely. Before giving up, Jonas went to work tinkering with the recipe and eventually the golden brown, better than the best pretzels were born. The pretzels were so popular that Anne stopped selling the pizza and ice cream. In time, people began knocking on their door (literally) with requests to open their own Auntie Anne’s Hand Rolled Soft Pretzel Store.
1992 | The 100th Store
Auntie Anne’s® locations started showing up all over. Over 4,000,000 pretzels were rolled by this time and the company celebrated the opening of its 100th location. Today Auntie Anne’s® is the world’s largest hand-rolled soft pretzel franchise found in shopping malls, outlet centers, airports, train stations, travel plazas, colleges/universities, and non-traditional shopping and entertainment centers. It currently has more than 300 franchise partners in 44 states and 23 countries. Never in a million years did Anne dream the company would be what it is today. To learn more, visit www.auntieannes.com.
1992 | Entrepreneur of the Year
It was also in 1992 that Anne received her first Entrepreneur of the Year award from Inc. Magazine. Since then, Anne’s vision to serve, inspire, and give has been recognized multiple times. She was named one of America’s 500 Women Entrepreneurs by Working Women, and received honorary doctorates from Eastern College and Elizabethtown College. Anne has been featured on many television shows including, The Food Networks Unwrapped, Oprah, Good Morning America, and Joyce Meyers; and in magazines such as Fortune, Nation’s Restaurant, Entrepreneur Startups, and Guideposts.
1997 | The Family Grows
There is nothing quite like the first grandkid, and in 1997 Anne welcomed her first grandson to the world. Today, Anne enjoys spending time with her husband, their two married daughters and four grandkids. As one of eight children, she also has a large extended family life with thirty nieces and nephews, and over thirty great nieces and nephews. In fact, did you know it was Anne’s family that dubbed her “Auntie Anne”? During the early pretzel years, before a company name had been established, Anne’s nieces and nephews called her Auntie Anne. When the time came to find a name for the pretzel stand, it just clicked!
2005 | The Next Chapter
After seventeen successful years as owners of Auntie Anne’s®, Jonas and Anne decided to sell the company and pursue their passion of giving back to the community. Through the sale, they were able to build The Family Center, a 55,000 square foot community center in Lancaster County. The Family Center houses numerous organizations and businesses geared towards strengthening families and individuals – mentally, spiritually, and physically. The center opened its doors in September 2008, twenty years after the start of Auntie Anne’s®. To learn more about the center, or how you can help support community, visit www.gapfamilycenter.org.
2008 | Twist of Faith
Anne’s history is full of twists and turns. There has been joy, heartache, success, failure, peace, and triumph. In 2008 Anne published her first book, Twist of Faith, a look inside her life. The story chronicles everything from Amish to Auntie Anne’s, leaving little to the imagination. She shares her story – the good, the bad and the ugly – and encourages others to live “free indeed” lives by doing the same. Click here to purchase a copy of Twist of Faith.
2009 | Free Indeed
Throughout Anne’s life, she learned the value of sharing her story as a way to be free from her past. Anne launched Free Indeed Ministries in 2009 and encourages women to discover their story, share their story, and re-write their story. As part of the ministry, Anne hosts two day conferences for women and conducts regular classes in her community for women to have a safe place to share. (7 Women 7 Stories 7 Weeks). To learn more, visit www.7women7stories.com.
2011 | Auntie Anne Speaks
Since “hanging up her apron” at Auntie Anne’s in 2005, she has spent her time traveling the globe speaking at corporate and non-profit events on topics that hit home with business, non-profit, and female audiences alike. In 2011 Anne signed with Premiere Speakers Bureau, a leader in the industry. To learn more about how you can bring Anne to your next event, visit Anne’s Speaking Page.