Jays Foods

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Jays Foods, Inc.
IndustrySnack food
FounderLeonard Japp, Sr & William Ruwitch
Key people
Joe Shankland[1]
President and CEO
Bill Luegers[2]
ProductsSee products section
RevenueUS $78.1 Million[2]
WebsiteJays Foods

Jays Foods, Inc. is a manufacturer of snack products including potato chips, popcorn and pretzels. Jays Foods was founded in 1927 in Chicago, Illinois and is currently a subsidiary of Snyder's of Hanover.[3] Operating in several Midwestern states, Jays Foods' potato chips and popcorn maintain significant shares of their respective markets. Jays Foods filed for bankruptcy in October, 2007,[4] and permanently closed its Chicago manufacturing plant on December 5, 2007.[5]


Leonard Japp, Sr. began selling pretzels from a truck in 1927. The business grew to feature a potato chip recipe made by Japp’s wife, Eugenia.[1] After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Japp found a new business partner and began selling the chips under the brand name "Mrs. Japp’s Potato Chips". The 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent anti-Japanese sentiment, however, led to a negative connotation towards the word "Jap" in the United States.[3] The chips were consequently rebranded to "Jays Potato Chips" to avoid the sound-alike name, and the company became Jays Foods, Inc.

Jays Foods remained a family-owned company until 1986, when the company was sold to Borden, Inc.[6] In 1994, Jays Foods was re-acquired by the Japp Family. In 2004, Jays Foods was purchased by Willis Stein & Partners, a Chicago private-equity firm, and, together with another snack company acquired by Willis Stein & Partners, Lincoln Snacks Company, assigned a parent company, Ubiquity Brands.

Jays Foods filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 11, 2007, the second time in four years,[4][7] and permanently closed its Chicago manufacturing plant on December 5, 2007.[5] On December 5, 2007 the remaining assets of Jay's were acquired by Snyder's-Lance, Inc. who have said they will continue to manufacture and distribute Jays products throughout the Midwest.[8] Snyder's-Lance will continue to operate Jays Chicago warehouse and distribution center and its Jeffersonville, Indiana manufacturing facility.[9]


Jays Foods manufactures, markets and distributes its products in the seven state area of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri. Jays Foods has distribution centers in fifteen major cities in the seven state marketing area.[6] Jays has 310 company-owned routes, and 200 routes owned by independent distributors. The company has a total of 943 employees.[7]

Market share[edit]

Jays Foods does not market its products nationally. Despite competition from national brands such as Frito-Lay, which has a 67 percent market share,[10] Jays Foods has 23 percent share of the potato chip market in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa and over 60 percent market share in the "ready-to-eat" popcorn category.[1] Jays foods has been considering the possibility of competing as a national brand and has conducted marketing research and held focus groups in New Jersey and California.[1]


Jays (potato chips)

Krunchers! (kettle and corn chips)

  • Krunchers! Potato Chips – Original; Reduced Fat; Cheddar & Sour Cream; Jalapeño; Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper; Mesquite Bar-B-Que; Hawaiian Sweet Onion; Hot Buffalo Wing; Kosher Dill
  • Krunchers! Sweet Baby Jays (discontinued) – Chips made from sweet potatoes; introduced summer 2006[3]
  • Krunchers! Corn chips – Spicy Four Cheese; Guacamole; Jalapeño

O-Ke-Doke (popcorn)

  • O-Ke-Doke Balls of Fire
  • O-Ke-Doke Hot Cheese Flavored Popcorn
  • O-Ke-Doke Cheese Popcorn
  • O-Ke-Doke Chicago Mix Popcorn (Cheese and Caramel Corn)
  • O-Ke-Doke White Cheddar Popcorn

Hot Stuff (other snacks)

  • Hot Stuff Crunchy Cheezlets

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d US Industry Today: Jays Foods LLC (Retrieved November 28, 2007)
  2. ^ a b Hoover's: Jays Foods, Inc. Factsheet (Retrieved November 29, 2007)
  3. ^ a b c Potato Pro: Snyder's of Hanover officially acquires Jays Foods (Retrieved June 19, 2008)
  4. ^ a b Rovito
  5. ^ a b "Jays Chip Plant Closing Wednesday". Sun-Times News Group. Retrieved 2007-12-04.
  6. ^ a b Jays Foods: Employment (Retrieved November 28, 2007)
  7. ^ a b Yue
  8. ^ "Snyders of Hanover Working to Keep Jays Products in Chicago". PR News Now. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
  9. ^ "Jays to close South Side plant throwing 220 out of work". Chicago Business. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  10. ^ Answers.com: Potato chips, corn chips, and similar snacks (Retrieved November 28, 2007)


  • Rovito, Rich (October 26, 2007). "Jays Foods may shut down plant in Butler". The Business Journal of Milwaukee.
  • Yerak, Becky (October 2, 2007). "Possible buyers hanker for Jays". Chicago Tribune.
  • Yue, Lorene (November 9, 2007). "Jays Foods may lay off more than 500". Chicago Business News.