Discover the Crunchy Details: 5 Fun Facts About Herr’s Snack Company of Pennsylvania

Discover the Crunchy Details: 5 Fun Facts About Herr's Snack Company of Pennsylvania

(Photo: Jazz Guy/Creative Commons)

By Kalena Thomhave

June 24, 2023

Crack open a bag of Herr’s kettle-cooked chips or pub style pretzels, and learn some interesting facts about the global snack brand based right here in Pennsylvania.

Whether it’s sports teams or convenience stores, Pennsylvanians have their favorites.

Same goes for potato chips.

Wander through the chip section of a grocery store, and you may notice that there are a lot of homegrown brands: Utz, Wise, Dieffenbach’s, Good’s, Middleswarth, Hartley’s, and, of course, Herr’s.

In 1946, Jim Herr purchased a potato chip company for $1,750 ($27,293 in today’s dollars) at the age of 21, and went on to transform it into a Chester County-based global snack food success story. Each week, Herr’s makes one million pounds of potato chips, and Pennsylvanians probably eat a good portion of them.

But the company is about more than just tasty, crispy potato chips. Read on to discover some facts you maybe didn’t know about Pennsylvania’s beloved Herr’s brand.

Herr’s Is the Largest Privately-Held, Family-Owned Snack Food Company in the US

Though Jim Herr’s potato chip company started small in 1946, business was soon booming. Herr’s has evolved from personally delivering potato chips to customers to distributing hundreds of different kinds of snack foods in every state and more than 40 countries. At this point, many entrepreneurs would have sold their companies for a hefty profit (this infographic shows how a handful of companies own most of our favorite brands). Herr’s is an exception. And since 2020, when Utz went public, Herr’s has held the title of the largest privately-held, family-owned snack food company in the country. 

Discover the Crunchy Details: 5 Fun Facts About Herr's Snack Company of Pennsylvania
Photo courtesy of Ezra Wolfe

Herr’s Has Been Into Recycling for Decades

After a few decades of throwing out subpar potato chips, Jim Herr executed an idea to limit waste at the Herr’s plant. He started a cattle farm near the snack factory in 1983 that is still operating today. Instead of going to a landfill, a mixture of the rejected potato chips and pretzels is fed to the cows. And instead of wasting millions of gallons of water from the Herr’s plant, the water is used to irrigate the cow pastures. The farm is the “recycling arm” of the snack company.

Herr’s Was Featured in “The Office”

In a season three episode of the Scranton-set sitcom, Dunder Mifflin employees Karen and Jim make it their mission to find Karen’s favorite Herr’s Salt and Vinegar chips, which are sold out in the break room vending machine. Karen goes so far as to call a store in Montreal to inquire, in French, about the Herr’s chips. But if you analyze clips from the episode, you’ll see that the vending machine does indeed have the distinctive bag of Herr’s Salt and Vinegar chips. The brand name has just been altered to “Hurtz,” a funny combo of Herr’s and Utz.

Herr’s Has a Mascot

His name is Chipper, and he’s a chipmunk. Chipper wears sneakers and a red sweater with his name on it. Originally designed by the Jim Henson Company, Chipper debuted in the late 1980s. When Herr’s built its plant-adjacent visitor’s center in 1989, Chipper became a key presence on factory tours.

You Can Tour the Herr’s Plant in Chester County

Discover the Crunchy Details: 5 Fun Facts About Herr's Snack Company of Pennsylvania
Photo courtesy of Will Swan and Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau

Yes, you can visit the snack factory to see how Herr’s famous potato chips get made. A visit to the Nottingham plant allows you and your family to learn about company history through a video featuring Chipper, as well as snack food production during a factory tour. Most importantly, you can also try fresh potato chips, hot off the line!

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