Since March is Women’s History Month and today is National Potato Chip Day, I want to tell you about the amazing businesswoman and entrepreneur, Laura Scudder (1881-1959).
Scudder started her potato chip company in 1926 because her husband couldn’t work anymore after a car he was repairing, fell on him. It was up to her to support her family, and with four kids, there were a lot of mouths to feed.
In those days, chips were kept in large barrels in grocery stores. When a shopper wanted chips, the grocer would scoop some out and put them in a paper bag. This was a very wasteful system for a couple of reasons. One, the chips at the bottom of the barrel ended up being nothing but greasy crumbs. And two, the chips usually turned stale before they were all sold.
The brilliant Laura Scudder had an idea. She had her employees make bags out of waxed paper by ironing three sides shut, filling the bags with fresh chips, and then sealing the fourth side. Customers loved them. And even more important, the grocers loved them. Not only were they saving money with less spoilage, they didn’t have to bag the chips themselves anymore.
Emphasizing freshness, one of her marketing slogans was “Laura Scudder’s Potato Chips, the Noisiest Chips in the World.”
Laura Scudder later expanded her product line to include peanut butter, mayonnaise, and salad dressings, but chips were her main thing. By 1953, her company had almost 50% of the potato chip market in California.
It goes to show you, when the chips are down, put a woman in charge.