Laura Scudder

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Laura Scudder
Laura Scudder.jpg
Born Laura Emma Clough
(1881-07-19)July 19, 1881
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died March 13, 1959(1959-03-13) (aged 77)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Lawyer, entrepreneur
Known for Laura Scudder potato chips
Spouse(s) Charles Scudder (m. 1908; d. 1928)

Laura Clough Scudder (July 19, 1881 – March 13, 1959) was an entrepreneur in Monterey Park, California,[1] who made and sold potato chips and who pioneered the packaging of potato chips in sealed bags to extend freshness.


Born in 1881, in Philadelphia, Laura Scudder was a nursing student in Trenton, N.J., then worked as a nurse, before moving to Ukiah, in Northern California, having married Charles Scudder on July 4, 1908. She opened a restaurant across from the Mendocino County Courthouse, where lawyers encouraged her to study law.

While there she became the first female attorney in Ukiah, California (but she never practiced law) before moving south in 1920, to Monterey Park, California, where Charles ran a gas station (a garage and attached brick building at the Northeast corner of Atlantic and Garvey)[2][3] until he was disabled, repairing a car,[3] Laura took over the gas station, but branched out into the potato chips in 1926[4] and later, peanut butter in 1931.[5] The Scudders lived in La Habra Heights[6] Laura Scudder tended a victory garden and wrote a newspaper column.[7]

Potato chips[edit]

At first, potato chips were distributed in bulk from barrels or glass display cases,[8] or tins, which left chips at the bottom stale and crumbled.[9] Laura Scudder started having her workers take home sheets of wax paper to iron into the form of bags, which were filled with chips at her factory the next day. This innovation kept the chips fresh and crisp longer and, along with the invention of cellophane, allowed potato chips to become a mass market product.[10]

Scudder also began putting dates on the bags, becoming the first company to freshness date its food products and sold in twin packs to further reduce staleness and crumbling.[11] This new standard of freshness was reflected in the marketing slogan: "Laura Scudder's Potato Chips, the Noisiest Chips in the World."[12] The Laura Scudder Potato Chip Factory was at Garvey Avenue east of Atlantic Boulevard, Monterey Park in the 1920s.[13]

Laura Scudder faced many obstacles running her own company during the Great Depression. For instance, when she tried to get insurance for the company's delivery truck, she was denied by all the local male insurance agents, who claimed that a woman would be unreliable at paying the premiums. The female insurance agent who eventually insured the truck went on to insure the entire company fleet.

She expanded into peanut butter and mayonnaise in order to keep her workforce employed year round since potato chips tended to sell best during summertime. She published recipes to raise interest in her products and was noted for a chocolate cake recipe that used mayonnaise instead of eggs and butter. Ingredients like butter and fresh eggs were scarce during World War II due to rationing for civilians because of the effort to supply the needs of military personnel. [14]

Laura Scudder's Mayflower[15] Potato Chips Billboard (1931 - Fairfax Ave. looking south from Drexel Ave.).[16][17][18][19][20][21]

Laura Scudder Label

Laura Scudder Inc.[edit]

At one point, Laura Scudder turned down a $9 million offer for the company because the buyer wouldn't guarantee her employees' jobs. In 1957, she sold her firm to Signal Oil & Gas of Signal Hill, with a $6 million offer from a buyer who guaranteed job security for her workforce. The new company was called Laura Scudder Inc. At the time of the sale, the company had expanded into mayonnaise, and Laura Scudder brand potato chips held a greater than 50% share of the Californian market. She continued to run the company until her death in 1959.[22] Laura Scudder's Papers[23][24] and the Women’s Studies Scholarship is at Chapman University.[25][26][27][28][29] Laura Scudder Program Series is at the Bruggemeyer Library, in Monterey Park.[30] with donations from the Laura Scudder Foundation[31][32][31][33][34][35]

In 1987, Laura Scudder Inc.[36] was sold to Borden, Inc. for $100 million.[37] Annual sales for the chipmaker were $126 million in 1986.[38] However, union difficulties motivated Borden to close all California plants of Laura Scudder only a year later.[37] Borden's overall culture of mismanagement, incurrence of excessive debt to finance numerous acquisitions, and several restructurings led in 1993, led Borden to sell what remained of Laura Scudder for less than $16.7 million.[39] However, the buyer, G.F. Industries, Inc.'s Granny Goose subsidiary was already in trouble, and was put up for sale in January 1995. In 2009, Snack Alliance, Inc. licensed from The Laura Scudder's Company, LLC the rights to produce and market potato chips under the Laura Scudder's brand. According to the J.M. Smucker Company website,[40] the Laura Scudder's Natural Peanut Butter business was acquired by Smucker's from BAMA Foods Inc. in December 1994. As of 2009, Smucker's marketed the Laura Scudder's brand of natural peanut butter on the west coast. According to a March 31, 2010 announcement,[41] Snack Alliance, Inc. was acquired by Shearers Foods Inc., a manufacturer of competing salty snacks in different regions of North America. At the same time (2010) it appears the original Laura Scudder's brand is being actively marketed by a Californian company.[42] These two companies have different packaging for their different Laura Scudder's products, and the Californian company appears to be marketing its products nationwide.


  1. ^ Hudson, Berkley (9 April 1989). "Laura Scudder Was More Than a Name : Monterey Park Will Honor 'Pioneer, Instigator, Doer' Who Helped Create Snack-Food Industry". Los Angeles Times. 
  2. ^ Laura Scudder, started her now famous potato chips behind her husbands gas station on the northeast corner of Atlantic...
  3. ^ a b "Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library Celebrates City's Centennial with Laura Scudder Program Series - The Citizen's Voice". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  4. ^ La Ganga, Maria L. (23 September 1987). "Laura Scudder Owed a Lot to Peanut Butter". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ Hudson, Berkley (1989-04-09). "Laura Scudder Was More Than a Name: Monterey Park Will Honor 'Pioneer, Instigator, Doer' Who Helped Create Snack-Food Industry". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ Ryon, Ruth (28 May 2006). "25 million new reasons to be cheerful". Retrieved 1 May 2017 – via LA Times. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Harmon, John E. "Atlas of Popular Culture in the Northeastern US - Potato Chips". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  10. ^ "Laura Scudder's History". Archived from the original on September 17, 2008. Retrieved 2013-05-11. 
  11. ^ "Laura Scudder's potato chips · Special Collections Digital Exhibits". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  12. ^ Laura Scudder's Potato Chips, YouTube
  13. ^ "Photograph of the Laura Scudder Potato Chip Factory". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  14. ^ Monterey Park Cascades, Nov 2015 "Laura Scudder, Cooking with Wartime Rations and Monterey Park" By Beryl Williams, Monterey Park Historical Society
  15. ^ "Laura Scudder's - Mayflower potato chips - 15-cent bag package NOS - 1940's 1950's". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Intersection, Drexel Avenue & South Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 1931 ::". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Plaque: Laura Scudder's Food Products at the corner of Garvey and Atlantic
  22. ^ San Gabriel Cemetery Association. "The Burial record for: LAURA, SCUDDER, 1959". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  23. ^ "Finding Aid for the Laura Scudder Papers 2010.10.r". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  24. ^ "Leatherby Libraries". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  25. ^ "Laura Scudder Women's Studies Scholarship". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  26. ^ "Laura Scudder Scholarship Application - Due May 1". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  27. ^ Conrad, Suzanna (23 June 2011). "Laura Scudder". Retrieved 1 May 2017 – via Internet Archive. 
  28. ^ Monterey Park Historical Heritage Commission (5 October 1989). "Oral history program: Robert Brackenbury". Retrieved 1 May 2017 – via Internet Archive. 
  29. ^ Monterey Park Historical Heritage Commission (27 April 1989). "Oral history program: Phil Browning". Retrieved 1 May 2017 – via Internet Archive. 
  30. ^ "Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library - The Citizen's Voice". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  31. ^ a b "Laura Scudder Scholarships - The Citizen's Voice". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  32. ^ Barron, David. "Nursing Students Win Scudder Scholarships". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  33. ^ "A Message from the City Librarian - Monterey Park, CA - Official Website". Retrieved 1 May 2017. 
  34. ^ Laura Scudder program series
  35. ^
  36. ^ Jeff Quitney (30 April 2016). "Scudder's Potato Chip TV Commercial circa 1962 Scudder's". Retrieved 1 May 2017 – via YouTube. 
  37. ^ a b "Borden Acquisition Corp, et al. - SC 14D1 - Borden Chemical Inc - On 11/22/94 - EX-11.(G)(15)". SEC Info. Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  38. ^ "Borden Acquires Laura Scudder's". The New York Times. 1987-09-23. 
  39. ^ "Borden Chemical Inc - 10-Q - For 6/30/94". SEC Info. Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  40. ^ "About Laura Scudder's". Archived from the original on August 22, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  41. ^ "Shearer's Foods, Inc. Acquires Snack Alliance, Inc". Shearers Foods Inc. 2010-03-31. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  42. ^ "Laura Scudders since 1926 - Potato Chips | Dip Mixes | Dips | Snacks". Retrieved 2011-09-26. 


  • Vare, Ethlie Ann; Ptacek, Greg (2002). Patently Female: From AZT to TV Dinners, Stories of Women Inventors and Their Breakthrough Ideas. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-02334-5. 

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