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Prospective buyer hopes to bring back Peerless Potato Chips
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Prospective buyer hopes to bring back Peerless Potato Chips

Region residents snacked on Peerless Potato Chips for 89 years before the Gary snack maker went out of business in 2017.

But the iconic potato chip beloved by Region residents could be coming back.

A buyer is interested in purchasing the assets of the potato chip company, which was founded by a steelworker who lost a finger at Carnegie Steel just before the Great Depression in 1928.

"There hasn’t been a closing on any sale," said Patrick Kepchar, an accountant who represents Peerless in the sale of its assets, as well as the potential buyer. "We do, however, have a buyer that we are going through the process with currently, and it looks promising, but again, nothing has been finalized just yet."

If the deal does go through, Kepchar said it would be a "rise from the ashes story of one of the Region’s most favored snack food companies."

Owner John Hogg closed Peerless Potato Chips after its main distributor, the Joliet-based coop Central Grocers, filed for bankruptcy two years ago. Jewel-Osco and Walgreen's stopped stocking Peerless, and it gradually had been losing shelf space at Strack & Van Til supermarkets.

Hogg said there were potential buyers before Peerless closed, but many made lowball or unrealistic offers, or lacked the financial wherewithal for a purchase.

Peerless operated a potato chip factory at 661 W. 11th Ave. in Gary, where about 15 employees made "the best chips you'll ever have the pleasure of eating" that were "Old Fashion Pure Vegetable Shortening Cooked." It sold "The Big Un!" bags with slogans like "make the chips, they'll eat em" at many mom-and-pop groceries and independent convenience stores across the Region.

Many Region residents who grew up eating Peerless showered them with superlatives like "best potato chips ever" or "nothing like it," and ordered them by mail after moving from the area.


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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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