We can all pinpoint a time during our childhood when we spent sweltering hot summer days playing outside with the neighborhood kids. And afterwards, that sprint home when the excitement of the afternoon snack would hit. For many of us, it was the glorious arrival of Charles Chips patiently waiting on our own front porch. With the distinctive gold and brown tin freshly filled with the delicious, light and crispy chips, this easily became the highlight of many hungry children. Sprinting home and looking on the porch to see the tin’s lid closed always meant one thing, the Charles Chips man had arrived.
Crafted by a devoted farmers wife, Charles Chips aren’t your ordinary potato chip. When farmer Si Musser and his wife Effie were having difficulties keeping themselves afloat with their small rural Pennsylvania farm, it dawned on Effie that she could promote and sell her families most adored and delightful treats–her original-recipe for a golden-crispy potato chip. Effie made the realization that if she were able to get her chips to the well-known Central Market located in Penn Square in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, she would have an exceptional chance of selling a decent amount of bags and hopefully make up for some of the cost on the farm. Knowing that it was the oldest and continuously operated market in the United States with roots going back to 1889, Effie was sure that alongside the famous Amish goods– which many came searching for, her home-made potato chips could do very well. It didn’t take long for these thin crispy treats to become noticed by many, and soon enough Effie couldn’t keep up with the appetite customers had for her homemade chips!
In no time a snack distributer from Baltimore, Maryland would approach Effie to contract her chips and get them delivered to him in bulk. Subsequently the famous brand and name we have all come to know and love, Charles Chips, was forged. Repackaged and placed into the now well-known, distinctive gold and brown tins, the chips inherited the name Charles Chips after Charles Street in downtown Baltimore.
As fate would have it, the company fell right back into Effie’s lap when the contractor chose to avoid bankruptcy which ultimately led to selling of his assets to her. Under her supervision Charles Chips not only thrived, but also started to dominate the potato chip industry. As production grew from their small rural farm kitchen in Pennsylvania to a fifty foot by two hundred foot cement block building, Si and Effie dedicated all their attention to these glorious salty treats. They delved into producing private label potato chips for Fritos and A&P while evolving the successful home-delivery concept with Charles Chips.
As Charles Chips progressed and expanded, new products such as the Charles Chips Pretzels and Cookies fell into distribution. Charles Chips added to the idyllic luster of the ever-growing and thriving America of the 1950s.
Home delivery eventually came to a halt and distribution of the chips stretched out to the mid-west, the south and eventually all the way to California! As time passed, so came new owners, Charles Chips fell into the hands of multiple companies and slowly drifted away from the original recipe and dignity it once had. All was forgotten until the Scardino family purchased the company in early 2011. Being genuine fans of the brand, they wanted to recapture the true essence of Charles Chips and bring back the famous tins filled with the original recipes.
Fast-forward to 2015 at Yearbook on a hot mid-summer day, a customer had walked into the store curious to know if we had any vintage Charles Chips tins. Many of our shoppers come into the store hunting for vintage gems and to experience elegant taste with a touch of nostalgia. Although we didn’t carry any tins, we became eager to know what exactly these chips were all about. We did some investigation and to our pleasant surprise Charles Chips had been reclaimed and was distributing their chips, cookies, and pretzels throughout the East Coast. With some time and persistence Yearbook has proudly become the only retail store in Chicago that carries Charles Chips and it has grown into a beloved staple of our brand.
With its humble beginnings and strong perseverance, Charles Chips had made its way into the homes of American families and won the hearts of children. The chips left us with fond memories of a simpler time where sneaking an order of extra cookies when mom left the house was secretly smiled upon, and seeing the Charles Chip man heading his way over was equally as exciting as hearing the ice cream man’s familiar melodic tune. Yearbook is proud to be able to provide the pure, unadulterated taste of this flaky, wonderful potato chip cooked in cottonseed oil, and drizzled with a dash of salt. Being able to taste Effie’s original recipe that has stood the test of time is just one part of the charm that these chips carry. You’re only a crunch away from traveling back to a time of innocence and light-hearted memories with the taste of Charles Chips.