Welcome to the J & J Snack Foods Second Quarter Earnings Conference Call. My name is John, and I will be your operator for today's call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions) Please note the conference is being recorded.
And now, I'll turn the call over to Gerry Shreiber.
I will begin with the obligatory statement. The forward-looking statements contained herein are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which reflect management's analysis only as of the date hereof. We undertake no obligation to publicly revise or update these statements to reflect events or circumstances that arise after this date.
Results of operations; net sales increased 8% for the quarter and 13% for the six months. Excluding first 12-month sales from Hill & Valley, which was acquired in January 2017, an ICEE distributor located in the Southeast acquired in June of 2017 and Labriola Bakery, which was acquired in August 2017, sales increased nevertheless approximately 6% for the quarter and a healthy 7% for the six months. For the quarter, our net earnings increased by 12% to $17.8 million or $0.95 a share from $16 million or $0.85 a share a year ago. For the six months, our net earnings were $54.1 million or $2.88 a share, an increase of 83% from $29.5 million or $1.57 a share from a year ago. Our EBITDA, that's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, for the past 12 months was $170.1 million, another record.
Food service; without Hill & Valley and Labriola, sales were up 7% for the quarter and six months. Sales to food service customers increased 9% for the quarter. Our sales increase of 7% without Hill & Valley and Labriola was due to increased sales of soft pretzels up 8%, handhelds up 15%, Churros up 4% and funnel cake up 26%. Sales of frozen juices and ices were down 3% for the quarter and bakery sales, without Hill & Valley, were up 7%. Sales to food service customers increased 15% for the six months. Our sales increase of 7% without Hill & Valley and Labriola was due to increased sales of soft pretzels, up 9%, handhelds up 33%, Churros and funnel cake up 25%. Sales of frozen juice bars and ices were down 3% for the quarter and bakery sales, without Hill & Valley, were up 4%.
Retail supermarkets; sales of products to retail supermarkets were up 10% for the quarter and 8% for the six months, all of this in a tough environment. Soft pretzel sales were up 10% for the quarter and 14% for the six months and sales of frozen juice bars and Italian ices were up 17% for the quarter and 9% for the six months. Handheld sales were down 18% in grocery and 15% for the six