Kearny High School Students to Create New Pretzel Product for Auntie Anne's

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Contact: Karen Geisel
(518) 421-3435


Kearny, NJ – Approximately 60 students enrolled in the New Jersey ProStart Program at Kearny High School, a few minutes north of Newark, NJ, will attempt to be the first high school students in the country to produce a new pretzel product for Auntie Anne’s after a challenge was accepted when a top executive recently visited the school.

“It all happened organically,” said both Jackie Secor, Vice President of Operations for Auntie Anne’s LLC, and Jessica Barone, Culinary Arts Instructor at Kearny High School. Secor was invited by the NJ Restaurant Educational Foundation (NJREF) to tour one of the Garden State’s participating schools. She accepted the offer and chose Kearny H.S. because her grandmother graduated from the school decades earlier. In addition, Secor was eager to share her life experience with students considering she started her foodservice career at Auntie Anne’s as a store manager and worked her way up the corporate ladder.
“I was talking with the kids, impressed with the talent, ambition and confidence of the Kearny students, when one student asked me how we determine what sells in stores. Shortly after, several other kids chimed in and asked why they couldn’t try to create a new product for us,” said Secor. “Honestly, I paused for moment, and thought, why not?”

This month, the students will receive Auntie Anne’s unique dough mixture and begin their quest. They must instill all aspects of the NJ ProStart Program into their effort to succeed, which goes beyond creativity and taste. Product pricing, marketing and demographics are serious elements as well. Auntie Anne’s Research & Development team will also visit the school to support the process.

“I told them not to be afraid to think big and think crazy, but to remember the real world lessons they’re learning in class and to apply them. In simple terms, it means what sells in New Jersey may not sell well in another state,” said Barone.

The Auntie Anne’s franchise, located in the New Jersey Gardens Mall has offered to accept, sell and market the student’s final product, most likely this spring. If all goes well, the new pretzel will be evaluated by corporate like any other new product.

“Our students are ethnically diverse and needless to say, proud of their heritage. It will be interesting to see how the student’s Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Hispanic, Irish, Scottish and British cultures all dovetail together. To say I’m excited for them, is an understatement,” added Barone.

Auntie Anne’s also supports the National Restaurant Educational Foundation via a national partnership where young adults from around the country are supported and encouraged to choose culinary arts and foodservice as a career.

For more information on the NJ ProStart Program, please contact us.

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With a mission to develop the foodservice industry through workforce development and scholarships, the New Jersey Restaurant Educational Foundation is the non-profit 501c3 arm of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association (NJRHA) and home to the New Jersey ProStart Program, a college-level culinary arts and management program for high school students.

About Auntie Anne’s
With more than 1,800 locations in 48 states and more than 25 countries, Auntie Anne's mixes, twists and bakes pretzels to golden brown perfection all day long in full view of guests. Auntie Anne's can be found in malls and outlet centers, as well as in non-traditional spaces including universities, airports, Walmarts, travel plazas, military bases, and food trucks. Fans can now also order their favorite pretzels for catering through For more information, visit, or follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To receive the latest offers – including a free pretzel for your birthday – download the My Pretzel Perks app.