The Painted Pretzel: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

The Painted Pretzel is a company that makes dipped, candy-covered, beautifully decorated specialty pretzels. Raven Thomas started making the sweet treats from her home kitchen in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Thomas was inspired to start making chocolate-covered pretzels herself after seeing some holiday treat gift trays but thought she could create something of higher quality. Thomas was pregnant then and knew it wasn't wise to buy expensive Christmas presents that year. Instead, she made her first versions of the dipped pretzels. People loved the gifts and quickly started inquiring about purchasing the pretzels.

What started as a sweet hobby turned into an in-demand product. Thomas' business grew to the point that she had to turn down orders. She could not accommodate an order worth $2 million from Sam's Club, so that's when she called on the sharks. Thomas needed an influx of cash to move into commercial kitchen space and strategic guidance to take her business over the top, and she appeared on "Shark Tank" in February 2012.

How did Raven Thomas pitch The Painted Pretzel?

Raven Thomas came in with an ask for $100,000 in exchange for 25% equity in her business and handed out samples to the panel of sharks right away. When asked about the financial success of The Painted Pretzel, Thomas shared strong numbers: $75,000 in the past year with a recent $64,000 order, and she even had orders that she had to turn down due to capacity valued at around $140,000.

Kevin O'Leary harshly proclaimed that there was nothing unique about The Painted Pretzel product and asked Thomas how she planned to differentiate herself. She responded by saying the quality of ingredients and attractive packaging had already set her company apart. Neiman Marcus, who at the time was ordering two to three times a year, was buying unique mixes with candy, nut, and fruit toppings and dips like peanut butter, mint, and butterscotch, not just plain chocolate. Mark Cuban immediately recognized the draw. He even went to bat for her when O'Leary again insisted that anyone could make pretzels like this, saying, "You're putting your heart, your soul, and your love into it, and you care about the business." Having to turn down that $2 million deal from Sam's Club helped too. Mark Cuban owns the Dallas Mavericks and Landmark theaters, which were perfect platforms to sell these pretzels. It is no surprise that he offered Thomas the deal she asked for, and she accepted.

What happened to The Painted Pretzel after Shark Tank?

According to Raven Thomas, her business grew 1,500% after being on the show, and the massive amount of online orders right after the "Shark Tank" episode aired caused her website to crash. Mark Cuban told Food Republic in 2015 that "with some help, the product line would have great leverage." Cuban made himself very available as a strategic partner to Thomas, offering support in business development, marketing, and more.

The Painted Pretzel had clients like Google, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Chick-fil-A and had an order form specifically for gift orders from corporate clients. At one point, they were also selling on Amazon but later narrowed online ordering to directly from The Painted Pretzel website.

The company offered large pretzel knots and pretzel rods in flavors like white chocolate and Snickers, milk chocolate with M&M's, and dark chocolate with even more mini dark chocolate chips. They also made pretzel bark, where the pretzels are crumbled into slabs of chocolate. Party packs ideal for luxury holiday food gifts were also available for purchase. These pretzels were no longer made in Thomas' home kitchen, though. The company outsourced much of the production, but Thomas appeared to remain involved.

Were there any problems for The Painted Pretzel?

It was tough to meet the sky-high demand for Raven Thomas' product. In an interview with WAGS Redefined, Thomas called the business boom from the overwhelming publicity "wonderful and terrible at the same time because it was just so much to deal with." It does seem like the business had trouble keeping up with demand. They had a note on their frequently asked questions page that read that orders can take up to a month to receive.

The Yelp page for the former Scottsdale, Arizona storefront has become a dumping ground for abysmal reviews of the experiences customers have had ordering online. Review after review cites radio silence from the company after orders placed weeks or months prior were left ignored, poor or nonexistent customer service, and complete confusion over coupons, payments and large orders. Multiple reviewers claimed they filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

According to Raven Thomas' LinkedIn page, she is still president and chief executive officer of The Painted Pretzel. However, the Painted Pretzel website is no longer available, so it'd seem the candy company is no longer in business. 

Thomas is also the president of the Phoenix Effect Group, a consulting agency she founded in 2017, but at the time of writing, the link for the website is broken. Additionally, there haven't been any posts on their Facebook since January 2019. It appears that this once-promising entrepreneur hasn't been able to keep up with the demands of being in the spotlight.