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TCU remembers Davey O’Brien: Fort Worth couple to launch pretzel business at stadium

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Ben’s Soft Pretzels

TCU quarterback legend Davey O’Brien left many opponents tied in knots as they tried to tackle the elusive Horned Frog, who went on to win the 1938 Heisman Trophy and whose name is on the award that goes to college football’s top quarterback each year.

As part of the Davey O’Brien Day celebration at Texas Christian University on Sept. 1, a new concession vendor, Ben’s Soft Pretzels, will be selling a pretzel in the shape of the number eight, O’Brien’s number at TCU.

“We just got in the bakery and kept coming up with designs. The number eight kept coming up, and it’s easy to make,” said Monique Hudson, who, with her husband, Calvin, owns the pretzel franchise.

The pretzels are jumbo size, she said, weighing about a half pound. They come in traditional style, along with cinnamon and sugar flavors and assorted dipping sauces. The traditionally flavored No. 8 pretzel will sell for $7 and cinnamon and sugar varieties will be $8.

“These are big pretzels. You can share one, that’s how big it is,” she said. “This is Texas, go big or go home.”

Ben’s Soft Pretzels will be located inside Gate 6.

Monique is from Ohio and Calvin is from Alabama, but they have lived in Fort Worth for five years. They recently had their first child, Calvin Jr.

Monique’s background is in risk management, and Calvin is a member of the Dallas Police Department. They have family who own Snappy Catfish in Dallas, and she said the more they visited, the more they became interested in starting their own food business.

“I love fast food, but I didn’t want to get a restaurant,” she said.

Then they learned about Ben’s Soft Pretzels. Monique said she and Calvin are starting the first Ben’s franchise in Texas. Based in Goshen, Indiana, Ben’s Soft Pretzels traces its beginnings to 2003 when co-founder and CEO Scott Jones was in Indiana’s Amish country, where he met Ben and Liz Miller, the other co-founders. They began a friendship and an investigation into Amish baking. That led to the purchase of a pretzel business that became Ben’s Soft Pretzels and uses Amish-inspired recipes.

The TCU stadium location will be the first Ben’s franchise in Texas.

“We’re looking forward to a long-lasting relationship with TCU. We’re so excited,” she said. “We feel like a brick-and-mortar will come after we establish ourselves at TCU.”

Ben’s Soft Pretzels already has athletic partnerships with a variety of sports teams including the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL, the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, the University of Michigan football and basketball programs and other colleges and minor league baseball teams.

If the pretzels are a hit at the TCU game, the Hudsons have a chance to expand the business to other TCU events, such as basketball.

“We’re crossing our fingers about maybe getting into the student center,” Monique said.

Davey O’Brien Day

The game: TCU opens its football season against Southern University of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 1. Kickoff is 11 a.m.

Tributes: The Horned Frogs will wear stickers on their helmets honoring O’Brien, in addition to a field marking for him. The TCU band will form a No. 8 — O’Brien’s jersey number — on the field during its pregame show. The game program will feature O’Brien on the cover.

Special guest: Davey O’Brien Jr. will be TCU’s honorary captain.

Memorials: O’Brien’s Heisman Trophy and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award trophy will be on display before the game in Frog Alley and in the stadium concourse during the game. Video tributes to O’Brien will be played throughout the day. A floral arrangement will be placed at O’Brien’s statue in front of the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena on the TCU campus. Replica O’Brien No. 8 jerseys and T-shirts will be sold.

History: This season marks the 80th anniversary of O’Brien leading TCU to a national championship. He went on to play in the NFL, then became an FBI agent before entering the business world. In November 1977, just before O’Brien died of cancer, Charles Ringler and other members of The Fort Worth Club established the Davey O’Brien Foundation and the Davey O’Brien Memorial Trophy.


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