So long, Peerless Potato Chips

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The Times of Northwest Indiana broke the news on Monday that Gary's 89-year-old potato chip company Peerless Potato Chips is going under.

I wrote about Peerless back in 2008, and even then things were looking grim. Owner  John "Boss" Hogg complained of pay-to play schemes for space on grocery shelves and the challenges of supermarket consolidation that had the beloved local snack brand on the ropes. But he wasn't giving up. 
Hogg's sons, who worked in the plant when they were younger, aren't interested in taking over when he's gone. But even though he's had chances to sell out, he's not ready to let Peerless join Kelly's, Chesty, and Mrs. Klein's in the graveyard of regional chippers. "Snyder's offered to buy, but all they wanted was the routes," he says. "They didn't want the building. Didn't care about employees, nothing. They just wanted our shelf space."
Back then Peerless had a Chicago toehold at the Elston Avenue location of Strack & Van Til, the grocery chain owned by Peerless's main distributor, Central Grocers. But that outpost went under last spring. Hogg told the Times that Peerless gradually lost shelf space in northern Indiana, as Jewel-Osco and others stopped stocking the chips. With Central Grocers going bankrupt and Jewel in the running to buy out the remaining Strack & Van Til stores, Hogg "doesn't see any path forward for Peerless," the Times reported. 

On top of all that, Hogg is battling lung cancer.

If there's one small consolation, viewing the rough video I shot at Peerless's plant in 2008 is a hypnotic balm to the worries of the day, as tons of whole potatoes move slowly along the Rube Goldberg line from peeler to slicer to fryer to salter, dryer, and bag.

All you need is a bag of your own and your troubles melt away.

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