Herman Warden Lay (1909 – 1982) was an American businessman who was involved in potato chip manufacturing with his eponymous brand of Lay's potato chips. He started H.W. Lay Co., Inc., now part of the Frito-Lay corporation, a subsidiary of PepsiCo.
Herman Lay was born in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 6, 1909. His father, Jesse N. Lay, worked for International Harvester, first as a bookkeeper in Charlotte and later as a commercial salesman in Columbia, South Carolina, where the family moved. By 1920, they moved to Greenville, South Carolina. In 1922, his mother died of cancer and his father remarried. He then attended Furman University on an athletic scholarship for two years, but he did not graduate.
He began his career at Sunshine Biscuits and was fired because of the Great Depression. He then worked as a traveling salesman for the Barrett Food Company, when he delivered potato chips to his customers in his Ford Model A. His territory eventually expanded and his profits began to grow. In 1932, he borrowed US$100 and founded the H.W. Lay Distributing Company based in Atlanta, Georgia, a distributor for the Barrett Food Products Company, and began to hire employees. He peddled potato chips from Atlanta to Nashville, Tennessee. By 1937, he had 25 employees, and had begun producing his own line of snack foods.
The H.W. Lay & Company merged with The Frito Company in September 1961, creating the largest-selling snack food company in the United States, the Frito-Lay corporation. In 1965, Herman W. Lay (Chairman and Chief executive officer of Frito-Lay) and Donald M. Kendall (President and Chief executive officer of Pepsi-Cola) merged the two companies and formed PepsiCo, Inc.
He married Sarah Amelia "Mimi" Hodges and had four children. He died at the age of 73 in 1982. His late son, Herman Warden Lay Jr., was a Dallas-based co-founder of a bottling company in Mexico for Pepsi and 7 Up.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a room named after him. His alma mater, Furman University, offers a scholarship in his name. The Lay Ornamental Garden in the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden was named for him 
- Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
- Laura Lee, The Name's Familiar: Mr. Leotard, Barbie, and Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, Pelican Publishing, 1999, p. 159 
- The Smith Center for Private Enterprise Studies
- Dirk E. Burhans, Crunch!: A History of the Great American Potato Chip, Terrace Books, 2008, p. 40 
- Frito Lay history
- Happy 50th anniversary, Frito-Lay -- PEPline looks back at FLNA's history, Pesico Press release, September 29, 2011
- Texas State Historical Association
- Snack Food Association
- Lovedeep Kaur, Advances in Potato Chemistry and Technology, Academic Press, 2009, p. 28 
- The Wall Street Journal, Dallas
- PepsiCo, Our history
- Joe Simnacher, Herman Warden Lay Jr., son of snack icon who found his own success in business, dies at 66, Dallas News, 28 October 2011
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Meeting Space
- Furman University scholarships
- Lay Ornamental Garden