Remember When, Chattanooga? Stewart’s Potato Chips were a local favorite

Chattanooga News-Free Press photo via ChattanoogaHistory.com / This 1951 photo shows delivery trucks for Stewart's Potato Chips and other food items. Stewart's was a regional brand that was produced in Chattanooga, Memphis and Little Rock, Arkansas.
Chattanooga News-Free Press photo via ChattanoogaHistory.com / This 1951 photo shows delivery trucks for Stewart's Potato Chips and other food items. Stewart's was a regional brand that was produced in Chattanooga, Memphis and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Raise your hand if you remember potato chips delivered in big, metal cans.

The accompanying 1951 photo from the Chattanooga News-Free Press archives shows a line of delivery trucks for Stewart's foods, which included a popular brand of potato chips produced in Chattanooga, Memphis and Little Rock, Arkansas. Vintage Stewart's Potato Chips cans can be found for sale online today.

A deep dive into the photo reveals Stewart's branded items also included salad dressing, vanilla wafers, mayonnaise, corn sticks, peanut butter and sandwiches.

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The facility shown in the photo was adjacent to Mosteller's Garage, 2417 E. Main St., in 1948, according to newspaper records. Mosteller's Garage offered auto painting and repairing as well as wrecker service.

The first mention of Stewart's Potato Chips in Chattanooga's newspapers was in a Sept. 27, 1945, article in The Chattanooga Times noting Paris Coffee Co. here was relocating to Main Street and adding site-made Stewart's Potato Chips to its offerings.

A 1941 newspaper profile of C.T. Paris, owner of Paris Coffee Co., said he had prodigious appetites. He once ate 52 eggs in one sitting and smoked at least 25 cigars a day, according to the article. He boasted that he had "never had a stomach ache."

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The article about the coffee company relocation was headlined, "Paris Planning Modern Plant on West Main." It was noted that converting the building at Main and Chestnut streets, which was formerly owned by the Columbian Iron Works, would cost about $50,000. The report said the new food plant would occupy 23,000 square feet of interior space and employ 50 to 100 people. Products from the plant were shipped through East Tennessee, North Alabama and Georgia, according to reports.

"The potato chip department will have the capacity to handle a carload of potatoes, about 35,000 pounds a day," according one article.

Newspaper ads for Stewart's Potato Chips were abundant in the early 1950s. One Stewart's ad theme included the tagline, "A Pip of a Chip." The ad concluded that Stewart's chips were "wonderful for after-school snacks and mid-afternoon pick-me-ups" and "ideal with meals for their fresh, nutritious taste." Several ads claimed Stewart's Potato Chips were "especially good with salads."

Stewart's Chips were sold at Chattanooga Lookouts games at historic Engel Stadium during the 1950s, according to various ads. The last mention of Stewart's Potato Chips in Chattanooga's newspapers was in a supermarket ad in 1962, when a "big bag" sold for 59 cents.

To read previous articles in this series visit ChattanoogaHistory.com or visit the "Remember When, Chattanooga?" public group on Facebook.

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Remember When, Chattanooga? is published on Saturdays. Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645.