The Smith's Snackfood Company

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The Smiths Snackfood Company
TypeProprietary company
Founded1920; 103 years ago (1920) in Cricklewood, England[note 1]
  • Frank Smith
  • Jim Viney
  • George Ensor
Area served
United Kingdom
ProductsSnack foods, potato chips

The Smith's Snackfood Company is a British-Australian snack food company owned by American multinational corporation PepsiCo. It is best known for its brand of potato crisps. The company was founded by Frank Smith and Jim Viney in the United Kingdom in 1920 as Smiths Potato Crisps Ltd, originally packaging a twist of salt with its crisps in greaseproof paper bags which were sold around London.[1] The dominant brand in the UK until the 1960s when Edinburgh's Golden Wonder took over with Cheese & Onion, Smith’s countered by creating Salt & Vinegar flavour (first tested by their north-east England subsidiary Tudor) which was launched nationally in 1967.[2]

After establishing the product in the UK, Smith set up the company in Australia in 1932. PepsiCo acquired a controlling stake in 1998.[3] Smith's Snackvend Stand is the branch of the company that operates vending machines.[4]

Smiths by country[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

Quavers cheese flavour. Introduced by Smith's in the United Kingdom in 1968, they are now produced by Walkers

Smith's Potato Crisps Ltd. was formed by Frank Smith and Jim Viney in the United Kingdom after World War I.[5] Smith had been a manager for a Smithfield wholesale grocery business which sold potato crisps from 1913. Deciding to make his own, Smith converted garages in Cricklewood, London into a crisp factory, selling to local businesses. By 1920 he had 12 full-time employees. Smith conceived the idea of selling unseasoned potato crisps with a small blue sachet of salt that could be sprinkled over them.[6] In 1927, after buying Jim Viney's share of the business, the company expanded into a factory in Brentford, London. In 1929, Smiths had 7 factories in the UK and the company went public. By 1934, 200 million packets of crisps were sold in Britain each year, 95 percent of which were manufactured by Smith's.

By 1956, the company was making 10 million packets every week. Following the creation of Cheese & Onion flavour by Tayto in Ireland, Golden Wonder (Smiths’ main competitor in Britain) produced their Cheese & Onion version, and Smith’s countered with Salt & Vinegar (tested first by their north-east England subsidiary Tudor) which launched nationally in 1967, starting a two-decade-long flavour war.[2][7]

Smith's launched a ‘Do The Crunch’ advertising campaign; in 1967 a young Phil Collins toured the UK teaching people the crunch dance.[8] Aimed at children, Monster Munch were launched by Smiths in Britain in 1977. Originally called "The Prime Monster" (a play on "The Prime Minister", and as part of a wider campaign), they were renamed "Monster Munch" in 1978.[9]

Smiths was later owned by biscuit company Nabisco, BSN and finally sold to American company PepsiCo in the 1990s.[10] Subsequently, Pepsico withdrew the brand, in favour of popular British brand Walkers, which had been heavily marketed in a campaign using former England international footballer turned television presenter Gary Lineker.[11] Many of the products previously owned by Smith's became labelled as Walkers, such as Quavers.

Current Smiths brands include Smiths Crisps, Frazzles, Chipsticks, Snaps and Savoury Selection (Bacon Fries and Scampi Fries).


After establishing the product and name in the UK, Frank Smith moved to set up a subsidiary in Australia.[12] Smith's Crisps were first manufactured in Australia in 1931 with an associate, George Ensor, in leased premises in Sydney's Surry Hills. They were originally made in 20 gas fired cooking pots, then packed by hand and distributed by Nestle confectionery vans.[13]

Smith's Potato Crisps sold its early crisps in three penny packets, 24 to a tin. "Twist of salt" sachets were included before pre-salting had been introduced. In March 1932, Smith's Potato Crisps Ltd. went into voluntary liquidation as a result of the Great Depression. However, three months later, George Ensor tendered for the business put up for sale by the liquidators, and on 13 May 1932, Smith's Potato Crisps (Australia) was formed with the UK Smith's Company holding a majority interest over minor shareholders. Growth after World War II was rapid, so a continuous cooker process was introduced to replace the individual cooking pots and in 1960 the production of a one shilling pack for cinemas and a box pack for four shillings was initiated.

In 1961, Smith's introduced its first flavoured chip - chicken. It was a very popular flavour, influencing most competitors at the time to adopt a Chicken variation. Other flavours released were Original (Pre-Salted) and Salt & Vinegar. Later, in the 1970s, Barbecue was added as a flavour for Smiths crinkle cut chips, and in the 1980s Cheese & Onion was added. These five flavours - Original Salted (blue packet), Salt & Vinegar (magenta packet), Chicken (green packet), Barbecue (orange packet) and Cheese & Onion (yellow packet) have remained the mainstay flavours of the brand since the 1980s. Many other 'limited edition' variants have also been tried over the years. During the late 1980s, the company introduced the famous advertising mascot Gobbledok, a chip obsessed alien character similar to the popular characters E.T. and ALF. [14][15]

In 1968, Associated Products and Distribution Pty Ltd (APD), the food group holding company in British Tobacco Co. (Aust), bought a 41.5% share of Smith's Potato Crisps (Australia)'s parent company, including all Australian shareholders. Over the next 20 years, other takeovers and new products (including Twisties and Burger Rings brands) drove growth. PepsiCo took over the company in 1998. In 1990, the APD name was replaced by CCA Snackfoods.[citation needed]

In 1998, the Smiths Snackfood company was Australia's largest producer of salty snack foods. It was acquired in August of that year, by Frito-Lay the second largest producer of salt snack foods in Australia, which is owned by PepsiCo. To prevent the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission from intervening for unfair trading practices Frito-Lay divested a range of brands, manufacturing facilities, including plants in Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. The package was named Snack Brands Australia and was sold to Dollar Sweets Holdings. In that package included the brands sold were CC's, Cheezels, Thins and Samboy.

Despite Australians using the term "chips" for crisps, Smith's called their product crisps until as late as 2003. They are now labelled as Smith's Chips.[16] As of 2010–2011, portions contained in "large" bags of Smith's Snackfood products have diminished, down from 200g to 175g (approximately equal to the previous 1975 large size of 6½oz).[17]


Current products[edit]

Previous products[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Established on 13 May 1932 in Australia
  2. ^ hamburger-flavoured snack
  3. ^ Bacon-flavoured savoury snack
  4. ^ Cheese or flamin' hot flavour puffs
  5. ^ Salt and vinegar
  6. ^ potato chips, available in Simply Salted, Salt & Vinegar and Cheese & Onion
  7. ^ corn chip
  8. ^ Bacon flavour snack
  9. ^ Onion flavour corn snacks.[19]
  10. ^ wholegrain chips
  11. ^ multiple flavoured chips
  12. ^ nuts, peanuts and cashews[20]
  13. ^ Australia's largest pretzel company - typical hard pretzels and a variety of uniquely flavored pretzels including flavors such as Tomato & Basil, Sweet Chili, and Potato & Rosemary.
  14. ^ Thick-sliced premium potato chips
  15. ^ rice crackers
  16. ^ scampi-and-lemon-flavoured cereal snack
  17. ^ crinkle-cut potato chips[21]
  18. ^ Air popped potato snacks
  19. ^ spicy tomato flavour potato puffs
  20. ^ competitor of Pringles
  21. ^ thinly sliced potato chips range in various flavours[21]
  22. ^ tomato-flavoured
  23. ^ cheese-flavoured snacks
  24. ^ Batburger flavoured snack in shape of bats, manufactured in the 1970s
  25. ^ Cheese and onion flavoured snack in shape of tanks, manufactured in the 1970s
  26. ^ Salt and vinegar flavoured snack in shape of bones, manufactured in the 1970s
  27. ^ Cheese flavoured triangles, with cheese powder center
  28. ^ Ready salted
  29. ^ Bacon flavoured snack in shape of claws, manufactured in the 1970s
  30. ^ Cheese and onion flavoured snack in shape of fangs, manufactured in the 1970s
  31. ^ Salt and vinegar flavoured snack in shape of planes, manufactured in the 1970s
  32. ^ Small crisp potatoes straws similar in appearance and taste to french fries - now owned and manufactured by Snack Brands Australia and under the Walkers name
  33. ^ Manufactured during the mid-1980s, these were crisps where the potatoes had not been peeled, leaving potato skin around the edges. There was an advert which featured dancing potatoes singing "We want to be jackets" in falsetto voices, and the slogan "So good, every potato wants to be one".
  34. ^ Thinly sliced potato chips
  35. ^ Still manufactured, under the Walkers name
  36. ^ introduced 1968, now sold under the Walkers name
  37. ^ vinegar flavoured snack in shape of ribs, manufactured in the 1970s
  38. ^ crinkle cut potato chips
  39. ^ still manufactured, under the Walkers name[22]
  40. ^ thinly sliced potato chips range in various flavours, now Smith's Thinly Cut
  41. ^ Ready salted, cheese & onion & salt & vinegar flavour square shaped potato crisps, still manufactured under the Walkers name.
  42. ^ wholegrain chips
  43. ^ thinly sliced potato chips - now owned and manufactured by Snack Brands Australia
  44. ^ manufactured during the 1980s and available in Lightly Salted and Salt & Vinegar flavours (there was also a variation of them in the early 1990s called 'Tuba Loops', in Ready Salted flavour).
  45. ^ Manufactured during the 1970s, these were available in Cheese & Onion, Salt & Vinegar, and Ready Salted.
  46. ^ Flamin' hot flavour corn puffs, still manufactured under the Cheetos brand.
  47. ^ Bacon flavour waffles (previously sold to Wotsits)
  48. ^ Mystery flavoured snack in shape of zodiac signs


  1. ^ "Potato Crisps - A History". BBC. 7 December 2006. Archived from the original on 17 August 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Channel 4 documentary tells dramatic story of how Corby's huge crisp factory changed the world of snacks - and how it exploded". Northampton Chronicle. Retrieved 23 April 2022. This is when Smith's hit back with their own revolutionary flavour — salt and vinegar, inspired by the country's love for fish & chips.
  3. ^ Northwestern journal of international law & business. p. 277.
  4. ^ Hospitality Foodservice. p. 36.
  5. ^ "'Crisps buoyed Britain in its darkest hour'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  6. ^ "So long, salt and vinegar: how crisp flavours went from simple to sensational". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  7. ^ "From salt and vinegar crisps to the offside rule: 12 gifts the North East gave the world". Evening Chronicle. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  8. ^ Gallo, Armando (1978). Genesis: The Evolution of a Rock Band. Sidgwick and Jackson Limited. p. 120
  9. ^ "Which iconic snack came out the year you were born?". Somerset Live. Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  10. ^ "PepsiCo buys former RJR Nabisco divisions". UPI. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  11. ^ "The history of Walkers Crisps and some amazing statistics". Leicester Mercury. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  12. ^ "Smiths Chips, Australia". Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  13. ^ "Smiths - Heritage".
  14. ^ Smiths Crisps (Australian ad) 1988, archived from the original on 13 December 2021, retrieved 22 July 2021
  15. ^ Smiths Chips commercial 1991, archived from the original on 13 December 2021, retrieved 22 July 2021
  16. ^ O’Connell, Jan (2013). "Australian food history timeline: 1931 Smith's Potato Chips arrive in Australia". Me and my big mouth. Archived from the original on 30 August 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  17. ^ size is 170gKollmorgen, Andy (8 July 2015). "Three chips short of a full pack". Choice. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h Carter, Bridget (17 March 2021). "PepsiCo set to divest local brands". The Australian. Retrieved 28 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ "PepsiCo launches £1 PMPS of Cheetos Footballs and Smiths Funyuns Onion Flavour Rings".
  20. ^ Australian Food: The Complete Reference to the Australian Food Industry - Catharine A. McKean. p. 211.
  21. ^ a b "Smiths". Smiths. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  22. ^ "Smiths Chips, Australia". Archived from the original on 5 June 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]