Marie and Charles Vitner founded the C.J. Vitner Company in 1926 as a collection of retail outlets consisting of five stores selling candy, magazines, tobacco products and ice cream on the south side of Chicago.
During the Great Depression, with sales dwindling, Charles started looking for other opportunities to keep his business going and invested in a popcorn machine. Charles then began distributing potato chips and pretzels to taverns as well as in his stores. By the end of the 1930's, Charles had six trucks selling exclusively to the tavern trade. He also provided everything the taverns needed from soups to glassware.
James Vitner joined his father's business in the late 1940s and his foresight saw the building of a distribution facility in Chicago. The 1970's saw another great expansion for the Vitner Co. when Jim's son Bill joined the family business and the company moved to a larger facility. However, by this time the company had evolved into a distribution company.
In 1977 the decision was taken to move into the manufacture of own brand snack foods and the company purchased a potato chip manufacturing company called Blue Star Foods.
With the Vitner name now appearing on the packaging, the Company began to flourish. A 100,000 square foot facility was purchased to handle the demand for the Vitner line of snacks.
Within a decade, Vitners had 70 Direct Store Delivery routes and six Wholesale Distribution routes serving the Chicago land market.
During the 1990s, management saw that they were rapidly outgrowing the Loves Park plant which was landlocked and had been expanded in the past to its fullest capacity.
C.J. Vitner Company
Address: 4202 W. 45th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60632
Sites all across the Midwest were considered and a 55-acre site in Freeport, Illinois was eventually chosen. When the plant was opened in 1992 it was the most modern snack food producing facility in the country with all state-of-the-art equipment. Whereas the Loves Park plant only produced potato chips and popcorn, the addition of the Freeport plant added extruded products, corn chips, corn pops and tortilla chips to the Vitner brand snack line.
Today, Vitner products are sold in approximately 20 states through its extensive distribution network.