|Headquarters||Gramercy, Louisiana, United States|
|Parent||Utz Quality Foods|
|Website||Zapp's Potato Chips|
Zapp's is a brand of potato chip made in the United States. The chips are cooked and packaged in Gramercy, Louisiana. The chips are kettle-cooked in peanut oil (instead of vegetable oil, which many other companies use). Zapp's market themselves with their Cajun heritage, using names such as "Spicy Cajun Crawtator", "Sour Cream and Creole Onion" and "Cajun Dill Gator-tators". Others, in addition to the "Regular Flavored" include "Hotter 'N Hot Jalapeño" and "Mesquite BBQ". They have also marketed numerous chips such as a limited edition Mardi Gras chip.
The company was founded by Ron Zappe, who graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in industrial engineering and became a distributor of pumps and other oil-field equipment. His four companies went bankrupt during the 1980s oil bust and he moved from Houston to Louisiana and started a potato chip business. (Zappe later received national attention for his 1988 campaign appearance on behalf of Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle, crediting a jobs program co-created by Quayle with enabling him to start his factory in Gramercy.) Zappe's first creation, the Cajun Crawtator, was introduced in 1985 as the nation's first spicy Cajun chip. Zapp's "Tiger Tators" were the first food product licensed by Louisiana State University, and it also sold "Who Dat?” chips in honor of the New Orleans Saints. Zapp's most popular flavor is "Voodoo" which was created in 2008 by Kevin Holden, General Manager and a shareholder of the company. In 1993 Zapp's acquired the Dirty Chip Company in Memphis, TN which manufactures Dirty Chips brand kettle chips. In 2006 Zapp's acquired the California Chip Company in Oxnard, CA which manufactures California Chips brand potato chips. Zappe appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1997, and the chips were profiled in national publications such as People and The Wall Street Journal.
Zappe died in Houston, Texas on June 1, 2010 at the age of 67. In January 2011, it was reported that the company would be sold to Utz Quality Foods of Hanover, Pennsylvania. The sale to Utz was completed in April 2011. Zapp's operates as a wholly owned subsidiary, continuing to manufacture at the Gramercy plant.
- Donald J. Boudreaux, "A chip off the energy industry block", Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 17, 2005.
- Lisa Belkin, At the Nation's Table: Houston", New York Times, June 1, 1988.
- Mary Fonseca, "Cajun crunchies - Ron Zappe's potato chip business", Nation's Business, May 1990.
- Bob Secter, "Strategists Craft Positive Image: Quayle Campaign Turns From Survival to Offense", Los Angeles Times, September 1, 1988.
- Michael Kranish, "Beleaguered Job Program Could Be Thorn In Quayle Camp", Boston Globe, September 11, 1988 (pay site).
- "Zapp's Potato Chips founder dies", The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), June 1, 2010.
- Anna Brown, "Zapp's creator, owner dies at age 67" Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., WBRZ-TV, June 1, 2010.
- "Zapp's of Gramercy being sold to Pennsylvania company", AP in Times-Picayune, January 7, 2011.