Willow Street, Lancaster County,
The Herr Foods story began in 1946 when 21-year-old James Stauffer Herr bought a small potato chip company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for $1,750. In 1947, the business moved into a vacated tobacco shed on the Herr family farm. As he learned more about the business, Jim Herr developed new and better cooking processes and a delicious snack food became even better. As demand for Herr's® Potato Chips grew, so did the company.

In September 1946, Jim proposed to Mim after an annual farm show in West Lampeter. Five months later they were married in the Hershey family's house in Paradise.

In the spring of 1949, Jim located a 3,600-square-foot bakery facility available for rent in the small town of West Willow, Pennsylvania. The bakery, along with an adjacent house, became workplace and home for Jim and his wife Mim.
September of 1951 Herr's® experienced a major disaster. Late in the afternoon, on September 5th, Jim was headed home from his deliveries, and Mim was preparing the evening meal when the fire broke out in the plant. Although the equipment had been shut down for the day, cooking oil apparently had dropped onto a hot fire brick and burst into flames. The potato chip factory was devastated by the fire.

Mim packs chips in the early days of the business.
With help from family, friends and the bank, the Herrs bought 37 acres and built a new 4,500 square-foot plant. Jim Herr equipped the new plant with the company's first automated cooker, an early example of the company's commitment to innovation and quality. From the beginning, Jim Herr adhered to his underlying business philosophy of providing quality products at competitive prices and backing them up with honesty and dependable service.
By 1956, just ten years after its inception, Herr's® Potato Chips was well-established with an expanding customer base. To accommodate the growth, the company built a 7,000-square-foot warehouse for storage of its allied products.

In 1958, after careful consideration, Herr's® began adding seasoning to the potato chips. The barbeque chip was the first flavored chip the company tried and it's still in production today. Over the years the company added a number of flavors, including Sour Cream and Onion, No-Salt, Old Bay (crab seasoning), Salt and Vinegar, Pizza, Red Hot, Slightly Salted, Pennsylvania Dutch, Dill, and Sour Cream and Cheddar.
The early sixties were marked by changes in the social structure in America. During 1963 Herr's® underwent changes of its own. The company doubled in size by constructing a 21,000 square-foot production facility in a field behind the Herr family's house. The company then officially incorporated as Herr's Potato Chips, Inc. and began a generous profit-sharing program for its employees.
In 1964, Herr's® embarked on a packaging venture that helped revolutionize the company's sales. For years, Herr's® chips were sold in wax paper bags for 5, 10, and 15 cents a bag, depending on size. Herr's® also offered a twin pack (two bags inside a larger cellophane package) at 49 cents. A packaging salesman convinced Jim to try selling chips in a 20-ounce cardboard barrel. The barrels resembled the popular, wax-lined ice cream cartons and could be assembled affordably on site. The sturdy barrels would prevent chips from breaking and protect them from light, which caused them to become stale.
In 1968, the company operated 35 sales routes out of Nottingham and five from New Jersey. An additional 23,000 square-feet was added to the plant. The new space provided more room for cooking, packing, and potato storage. A year later, Herr's® added 8,000 square feet of new stock rooms.
As the company expanded, Jim Herr's reputation as an exceptional businessman grew as well. In 1969 he was named Pennsylvania's Small Businessman of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
In 1974, Herr's® took a bold step in packaging, switching from glassine to foil bags. (Foil prevented light penetration and kept chips fresh over a long period.) Although the changeover was difficult and expensive, and the additional cost for foil was significant, the company was convinced that consumers would prefer a product that stayed fresher longer.
In 1976 America faced a serious oil shortage. Gasoline prices soared, and Herr's® was forced to reassess its delivery methods. One problem was clear: the shape of the King Style barrels created a packing problem for the salesmen. The purchase price for the barrels also had risen dramatically to nearly four times the cost when the barrels were introduced just ten years earlier. In 1977, Herr's® reluctantly discontinued the King Style barrel.

To keep in step with consumer demand, Herr's® began producing a number of new products: 1976 Cheese Curls, 1978 Popcorn, 1981 Pretzels, 1983 Corn products, such as corn and tortilla chips, 1984 Onion Rings.
By the early eighties, waste disposal created a mounting problem for the rapidly growing company. At the same time, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources was enforcing stricter waste disposal legislation. Jim Herr’s search for a creative solution ended in his own backyard. Through the years, the company had purchased over 1,000 acres of farmland in the vicinity of the plant. In 1983, Jim negotiated a deal with a young couple to help him establish, on this land, the Herr Angus Farm.
In the spring of 1984 the first load of 300 steers was delivered to the farm, and operations began. The cattle were fed potato peelings and rejected food products, mixed with traditional cattle feed. The farm manager worked with a nutritionist to develop the appropriate feeding mix and schedule for the cattle.Today, the farm produces wheat, soybean, corn and barley. Some of the crops are used as part of the mix in the cattle’s diet; the rest are sold. Starch, removed from the waste water before irrigating, is sold for fine paper manufacturing.
In 1986, Herr Foods enjoyed a period of solid growth and the construction of additional warehouse space in 1987 brought the total plant area to 212,000 square feet.
In 1988, Herr's® decided to put more emphasis on exporting their products to various countries. Since then, international sales have grown, including a manufacturing licensee in Barbados, and the company continues to explore further opportunities.
In 1989, the company constructed a 15,000-square-foot Visitors' Center adjacent to the plant. Every day tour guides lead visitors through the center and the plant. Tours begin in a 140-seat theater, where visitors are entertained and educated by a 27-minute film, featuring Ed Herr and Chipper® the Chipmunk, a puppet animated by Jim Henson Puppeteers.

Entering the decade of the nineties, Herr’s® was distributing its products in eleven states. With a continued commitment to quality, more than 1,000 Herr's® employees ensured our state-of-the-art manufacturing processes produce great tasting snacks. We operated nearly 500 sales routes and 23 warehouse locations.

Herr Foods Inc., corporate office

James S. Herr hands over the Chairman’s gavel to his son,
J.M. Herr

In the new millennium, Herr Foods is a leader in the snack food industry. We continually introduce the innovative products and packaging needed to satisfy ever-changing appetites and tastes. Our full line of quality snacks currently consists of more than 340 items including potato chips, pretzels, tortilla chips, cheese curls, popcorn, crackers, nuts, pork rinds, onion rings and meat sticks. All are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. We maintain the highest standard of service to our retail customers through our dedicated sales force. Our company owned and operated sales routes and localized distribution network delivers our snacks directly from the factory to the shelf. Doing so enables us to guarantee each and every snack is as fresh and tasty as it was intended.

Jim Herr handed over the Chairman of the Board gavel to his son, James M. Herr in 2005. The company maintains the philosophy of "health through continued growth." While keeping his father's conservative approach to business, J.M. stresses the desire of the company's leadership to solidify existing markets and break into new ones.

From meager beginnings, through many challenges and difficulties, Herr Foods has survived and prospered. The legacy that Jim Herr passed on to the next generation of leadership has become the solid foundation for the future.

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