The first thing you notice as you walk into the Whole Grain Natural Bread Company is the wonderful smell—a mix of wheat, chocolate, and a little cinnamon. As you turn to the right, you can see the latest addition to the menu choices inside the bakery: Parker’s Pretzels.
One of the newest young enterprisers in the East Valley is Brother Parker Bradshaw, whose creation, Parker’s Pretzels, is keeping the community well fed. Parker Bradshaw, of the East Kimball Stake’s Aspen Ward, was born with Down syndrome, but he has never let anything stand in his way.
He started playing the cello in the 4th grade when he was 10 years old. He played in the Mesa High School orchestra for 4 years, and has most recently been playing in the MCC Community Orchestra concerts.
While in high school, he swam on the school swim team. During his senior year, he served as the public relations representative, leading the Pledge of Allegiance each morning and making occasional school announcements. He was also crowned prom king, and earned his Eagle Scout award.
“From the time he was tiny, we have treated him just like all our other children. We knew he’d be able to learn to do just about anything, it has just taken a little longer,” says his mother, Kay Bradshaw. “He has excelled in school, swimming, playing the cello, and more! It has been a joy to watch him accomplish so many great things!”
His two older sisters, Kelli and Emma, had both previously worked at the bakery, and he was able to get hired on there as well. While serving a part-time Church-Service Mission at the Bishops Storehouse in Mesa, he continued working part-time at the bakery two days a week.
Recently, bakery owner Ron Anderson approached Parker and his parents and asked what they thought about coming up with something that Parker could do on his own, his own unique product. They realized they didn’t want it to compete with the already existing items for sale and came up with the idea of making soft pretzels.
Parker does everything from rolling them to shaping them, putting on the toppings and bagging them. They started out with the original plain soft pretzel flavor, and have added pizza, jalapeno cheese and recently, a cinnamon sugar variety as well. Parker only makes them on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, however, so you need to get there as early as you can. If you wait until Saturday afternoon, you will be out of luck! Parker’s Pretzels started selling in April and a giveaway contest was the kickoff, which just happened to fall on National Pretzel Day, April 26th.
“Parker always brings enthusiasm and a smile to work,” says his employer, Ron Anderson. “His eagerness to not only help but do the job really well is inspiring.”
The Whole Grain Natural Bread Company is located at 1244 S Val Vista Drive, Mesa.