Laura Clough Scudder is one of the legends of Potato Chips and Crisps. And this is why she became known as the ‘Potato Chip Queen’...
Born in Philadelphia, Laura Scudder worked as a nurse and studied law, before moving to California to become an attorney. She was one of very few female Californian attorneys. That was not enough trail-blazing for Laura, however.
After moving to Monterey Park, California, she started her food company, Laura Scudder’s, in 1926. At that time Potato Chips were packaged in barrels or tins. To overcome the problem of stale Chips, Laura asked her employees to take home wax paper sheets to iron into the form of bags, which were then filled with Chips at her factory the next day. This imaginative innovation maintained fresh Chips and kept them crisp longer. And, along with the invention of cellophane, allowed Potato Chips to become a mass market product.
Another Scudder innovation was dated bags. Laura Scudder’s was the first Potato Chips or Crisps company to include freshness dates on its food packaging. This was accompanied by the marketing slogan: "Laura Scudder's Potato Chips, the Noisiest Chips in the World."
In the early 1950s is it alleged that Laura Scudder turned down a $9million offer for her now nationally successful company, because the buyer refused to guarantee her employees' jobs. In 1957 she accepted a $6 million offer, from a buyer who did. Having dedicated her life to her enterprise, Laura Scudder died two years after relinquishing her company. But her name lives on.
In 1987 Borden Inc. purchased Laura Scudder Inc. for $100million - $26million less than sales for the previous year.
In 1993, a tale business woe led the company to sell the company for $16.7million. By this time all the Californian plants had been closed and Laura Scudder's Natural Peanut Butter business had been acquired by Smucker's from BAMA Foods Inc.
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The buyer, G.F. Industries, Inc.'s Granny Goose subsidiary was itself in financial difficulty, and was put up for sale in 1995.
In 2009, Snack Alliance, Inc. licensed the rights to produce Potato Chips under the Laura Scudder's brand. The following year Snack Alliance, Inc. was acquired by Shearers Foods Inc.
However, at around the same time, The Laura Scudders Company, LLC. was selling the Chips featured on this page. There was a court case, which adds nothing to this story, so we will finish there. Suffice it to say, Laura Scudder’s name is on the packaging of these Chips.