By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – Snack-food lovers were able to enjoy some freshly cooked, “Made in Rockford” potato chips this week, thanks to a company with an 86-year history.
Mrs. Fisher’s sold one-pound bags of its chips – hot off the presses, if you will – for $3 each Monday. The deal is part of promotion the company does once or twice a year. It’s been so successful; a line often forms outside the building at 1231 Fulton Ave. When the doors open at 8 a.m., some customers buy up to 25 bags at a time.
“They love these types of sales,” Vice President Christopher Spiess told reporters Monday.
Mrs. Fisher’s sold more than 700 bags during last year’s sale. It sold nearly 1,000 this time and now hope to hold the promotion every month.
Mrs. Fisher’s has a rich history in Rockford. The company was founded in 1932 by Ethel and Eugene Fisher. Under the name Mr. and Mrs. Fisher’s, the couple made the chips in their home back then, in a tiny kitchen near Charles and Seventh streets. Ethel changed the name to Mrs. Fisher’s when Eugene left the family.
Ethel succeeded with the new branding and later moved to a small building at the corner of Sixth Street and Fifth Avenue. The company relocated to the corner of Fulton Avenue and Grant Street in the 1960s and to its current location in 1978.
Mrs. Fisher’s has been sold four times throughout the years, each time to a longtime employee. The first was Sylvester Hahn, who bought out Ethel in 1949. Anthony and Mario Marsili purchased Mrs. Fishers from Hahn in 1962. For 29 years after that, it was owned by Chuck, Pete and Paul DiVenti. Roma and Mark Hailman took over in 2007.
The company processes more than 50,000 pounds of potatoes each week, each spud used carefully in a process that produces a thicker chip that has become just as recognizable as the dancing potato logo created by Eugene Fisher in the early ’30s.
A small fleet of route drivers delivers Mrs. Fisher’s regular, rippled, BBQ, BBQ rippled, French Onion, and dark chip to customers in a 25-mile radius of Rockford. Four distributors service retailers in Wisconsin and Chicagoland, including Joliet.
Mrs. Fisher’s chips, caramel corn, nuts and dips are available at the Fulton Avenue store and online. The company also sells branded shirts, hats and hoodies.