In 1942, Effie Musser was making a batch of her delicious potato chips in her small rural Pennsylvania kitchen and had a great idea - Si, her husband and farmer by trade, was having difficulties raising enough money to keep them afloat, so she began selling the chips at Central Market located in Penn Square in historic Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
It wasn't long before a Baltimore distributor was re-packing the chips into the now famous branded Charles Chips tin cans.
Effie took the brand over and as the farm was not making as much money as the Potato Chips, Si joined her in the new enterprise.
By 1946, production had grown from their small residential kitchen to a 50 foot by 250 foot cement block building. In the late 50’s, Si and Effie expanded the Charles Chips brand to include Charles Pretzels and Charles Cookies and in 1962, a new plant was built in Calhoun, Kentucky.
Charles Chips continued its home delivery until the early 1970’s when sales dropped. This led to retail, and before the end of the decade, Charles Chips were distributing as far as California.
By 1990, wholesale revenues for the company had exceeded $45 million and a year later Effie and Si sold Charles Chips to some Philadelphia investors.
The investors went bankrupt within two years and a Floridian popcorn bought the brand, before it, also went bankrupt.
Hillside Snacks from New Jersey bought the Charles Chips trademark in 1996, and started to market the potato chips under a new recipe. During this time, the company no longer manufactured potato chips but licensed the brand to several Charles Chips distributors who had been given permission to sell the chips.
The company was all but forgotten about until the Scardino family purchased it in 2011. Being fans of the brand, they wanted to recapture the true essence of Charles Chips and brought back the famous tins filled with all of the original recipes.
You can now buy Original, Barbeque, Waffle, No Salt and Mini Twist Pretzels.
A whole new generation of Charles Chips Fans are once again able to taste the joy that came from Effie's kitchen back in 1942.