Philly Pretzel Factory celebrates year in business
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Philly Pretzel Factory in Copperas Cove celebrated its first anniversary on Saturday afternoon by holding a hot dog eating contest.
Eight contestants competed in the first of two rounds, all starting with a plateful of 10 pretzel hot dogs in front of them. The contestants had 10 minutes to eat as much as they could of the hot dogs, with the top three moving on to round two, during which they had two minutes to eat as much as they could.
The grand prize—in addition to chowing down on hot dogs encased in the Philly pretzels—was $250 and a trophy, with second place receiving a trophy as well.
Philly Pretzel Factory owner Phil Agnello gave instructions to the competitors, who had to sign in and register prior to the event. He was recruiting competitors right up until the start time of 2 p.m.
Mitch Gillen, who called himself “Buddy the Sailor” wore a sailor’s cap, and has competed in eating competitions before. He had his own system for eating quickly, by removing the hot dog from the pretzel and soaking the pretzel in water while eating the hot dog, followed by the squishy pretzel. He also strategized, holding off on eating by keeping an eye on the other seven competitors.
By the time round one was complete, Gillen had consumed seven pretzel dogs during the 10 minutes of allotted time. Ian Vertefeuille and Travis Daniels rounded out the top three.
During the two-minute round two, Gillen emerged victorious, consuming three hot dogs, with Vertefeuille coming in second place.
In addition to the hot dog eating contest, the store was giving away one free pretzel per customer and offering sample of pretzel bites as well. An employee also provided free face painting for children.
Phil Agnello said he’s been pleased with the reception from the local community for the first Philly Pretzel Factory in the state of Texas. He said leasing the space from H-E-B Plus! has been great. Phil and his wife, Mesha, who own the store along with cousin Bobby Agnello, have plans to open at least two more stores in the Killeen area.