"The Man With The Smile Rode The Pretzel A Mile" - early Pretzel slogan

     The Pretzel Ride took the amusement business by storm. Routinely outgrossing all other rides on the midway, Pretzels were rapidly being installed in nearly every fun park in the nation, and foreign countries were also asking for them. The company's first sales rep was Fred Fansher, who had an office on Broadway in NYC. Other salespeople followed, with the last being Roger Haney.
     Leon Cassidy purchased an abandoned trolley barn on South Avenue in Bridgeton to use as the main factory. A standard Pretzel ride in 1929 had five cars, 350 feet of track and gave a ride of one and a half minutes in duration. Purchase price was $1,200.
     Of course, it didn't take very long before others sought to copy a ride that was so successful. The Traver Engineering Company and its successor, Chambers, marketed a similar ride under the name "Laff In The Dark", which was a lower-cost version with wooden cars, targeted at budget-minded parks. This ride employed dual trackwheels and positioned the hot rail on the floor aside the main steering track in an attempt to skirt the Pretzel patent. Cassidy initially considered suing Traver/Chambers for infringement, but ultimately decided, rightly, that the competition would be too insignificant to warrant the expense of litigation.
     A 1929 installation at Ramagosa's Sportland Pier in Wildwood, NJ was actually situated in an enclosed area beneath the pier with a ramp leading the cars down from the main entrance on the pier's deck.
     In 1930, the ride was taken to the Canadian National Exhibition. In those days, a carnival model dark ride was set up in a tent. For the ride at the 1930 CNE, a 40 X 60 floor was laid down, then enclosed by a tent which had a second inner tent or liner of black canvas to ensure darkness. A portable vestibule and signage was then put in place outside. The engagement was highly successful, grossing $4000 - big money in 1930.


The 1930 CNE tent-enclosed Pretzel Ride

 

The Pretzel Patent
These are the original patent drawings filed by Cassidy and Rempfer in 1928 and granted in 1929. Above left: Diagram of the ride vehicle. Directly below that is the arrangement for the track and electrical pickup. Above right: The original concept of the ride configuration.
I remarked to Bill Cassidy that the general production drive train differed substantially from what was shown in the drawings. His reply: "The patent wasn't really about the cars. It was the electrified single rail; that's what was new."

     Aside from the thriving dark ride manufacturing business, the Cassidys always had rides of their own out on location on lease and percentage deals. They ran 6 to 8 of their own rides on the California-Washington state coast, overseen by a hired manager. Additionally, Leon Cassidy had partnerships at Carolina Beach, N. Carolina and Seaside Park in Oregon. Leon was very interested in boats and owned several. After the park season, he would take one of his boats from Carolina beach to his winter home in Florida. Among other enterprises was a taxi company, and a campground in Cherokee, NC, that used oversized Wigwams (or Teepees) as cottages. The campground did not fare well, but Leon was fortunate that the resort was taken by eminent domain for freeway expansion.