Historic Urbana potato chips may soon be in short supply

Cody Pack, an employee at Mumford’s Potato Chips, stocks a shelf with boxes of the chips Tuesday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Cody Pack, an employee at Mumford’s Potato Chips, stocks a shelf with boxes of the chips Tuesday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Customers in Clark and Champaign County have been eating Mumford’s kettle-cooked potato chips for more than eight decades, but they may soon be a lot harder to find.

Mumford’s Potato Chips and Deli has been working with Shearer’s Snacks, based in Massillon, Ohio for about 20 years to produce the kettle-cooked chips, said Randy Leopard, whose family combined the deli and the chip business in 1979. But the relationship with Shearer’s is ending, meaning Mumford’s is now looking for a new partner to manufacture its chips.

“They decided to move in another direction so all the small and private labels they were doing, they discontinued at the end of this year,” Leopard said.

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He stressed the deli will remain open and Mumford’s will continue selling products like homemade candy and caramel corn. Mumfords will also continue looking for a new partner to manufacture its chips, although he said that may be a challenge because there are a limited number of companies that can provide the process Mumfords uses to produce its chips.

Company officials at Shearer’s did not return a call seeking comment.

In the meantime, Leopard said the deli has received a large shipment of its chips and should have that product available through the holiday season at the deli at 325 N. Main St. in Urbana. But once those chips are gone it’s not clear how long it will be before new product will be available, if ever.

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“Once again, thank you for 86 years of loyal support and make sure you get to the deli and grab what could possibly be one of the last bags of Mumford’s Old-Fashioned Kettle Cooked Potato Chips ever made,” Mumfords told its customers in a Facebook post to make them aware of the issue.

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He said Mumfords provides chips for local retailers in nine counties in the region, and retail distribution could also be a challenge if a new partner is identified.

“It’s kind of a two-fold problem,” Leopard said.

In the meantime, he said the deli’s customers have already started making a run on the last bags of chips that are still for sale.

“The beginning of last week, people came to the store in droves,” Leopard said. “People wanted to make sure they had their chips for the holidays. It just shows you how loyal our customers are.”

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