The Charles Chips Man

Does anybody remember Charles Chips?

I do, or just did, recently, after not remembering it for years and years. Suddenly, once again, there it was: a specific object of memory newly recovered, pressing up against my skull. That big 16-ounce drum of Charles Chips.

For me, pushing 50, closing out the first decade of the 21st century, it’s an almost dreamlike memory. Not that there was once a company that made chips and pretzels. But that those items were delivered, from home to home, in a truck that looked like this:

My brother, Billy, you see, was once a Charles Chips Man. He drove a truck exactly like that, wore some kind of brown uniform, and had a route that carried him to various points on Long Island. I don’t really know the specifics of his job; I’ll have to ask him about it over Thanksgiving. But I do remember, as concrete image (for “image” is the container of memory; we need to “picture” those wisps of time), those tan-and-brown tin drums on top of our refrigerator. I can remember my fingers prying open a tin, working around the lid in a circle, lifting bit by bit. We loved our Charles Chips at 1720 Adelphi Road in Wantagh, New York. Seven kids, remember. So on a regular basis, that familiar truck would pull up to our house and the delivery man would ring the bell. Oh, the excitement!

“Mom, the Charles Chips Man is here!”

He’d ask if we needed any, and of course we did, three or four cans every time. We’d return the old cans, which I suppose were reused, and then off he’d drive to the next Charles Chips-loving house on the route.

How was such a thing ever possible? Could it be true? Oh, it was true, and glorious. A man would drive around in a truck delivering potato chips and pretzels from house to house, and how we loved it.

And one day — I suppose it was one day — he was gone. Not enough business to sustain the route, or perhaps not enough children left in our house. The Charles Chips Man stopped coming, stopped ringing our bell. And this afternoon, when I told Nick and Gavin about it, they looked at me as if I had lived in another land, a distant impossible time before they existed, when their father was a boy.

Does anyone else remember?

65 comments

  1. Leanne says:

    Yes, I do. Although my mother and father thought I was CRAZY when I recently told them of this childhood memory! I had to google home-delivery of chips to prove my memory was not a hallucination! They had forgotten, but I had not. It was a highlight of my childhood!

  2. jimmy says:

    Thanks for commenting, Leanne. It does seem more like a hallucination than an actual memory.

  3. Theresa says:

    My dad was a Charles Chips man, I was sooo embarrased at the time, that big truck parked in front of the house. But darn that was some good stuff! And everything we owned was stored in a Charles Chip can!

  4. jimmy says:

    Thanks for commenting, Theresa. You made a poignant observation/confession about your father’s job, it’s easy (and a little sad) to imagine that young girl mortified by her father’s job, or social status. Feels like there’s a story there. You should write it down.

    As for those cans — they did come in handy!

    My sister — she’s about ten years older than me — went off to Puerto Rico and came back in love. I must have been ten years old. The boy followed her to New York and my father, who had some connection to Charles Chips (maybe he insured them?), found the boy a job. Of course, it was a disaster, as he was new to the country, driving around Long Island, hopelessly lost. The relationship didn’t last.

  5. Phil McQueen says:

    We used to get delivery of the chips at the office where I worked in the 70′s. There was a $5 deposit for the big can…which was refundable. I kept my first can…and would just get the chips in a large plastic bag straight from the delivery truck. Then I just put the bag into the can. Kept the can in my office. Wish I still had it. And I sure do miss the chips….the BBQ were awesome !

  6. Richard Dockery says:

    In the 80′s my family had Charlies Chips delivered to our home in Illinois. I loved them with Deans French Opinion dip.They had a out of this world taste. My mother loved the cookies!

  7. rayray21 says:

    ah yes the Charles Chips man!!! Those were the days…. when the world was less complicated and you could leave your empty Charles Chip can on your doorstep and come home to find it refilled with those oh so goood thin crunchy chips that were salted just right…they don’t make chips like that anymore!…I wonder why they went out of business? BBQ was good, but the original flavor was my favorite…don’t remember Jewel T but I do rmember the green back stamps….bring back the good old days…kids these days are cheated….

  8. Mora says:

    We had Charles Chips delivered to our home in a suburb of Rochester, NY. I think my mother still has the Charles Chips can stored in the basement!

  9. Erin says:

    I remember having Charles Chips delivered where my dad worked in Phoenix, AZ in the mid-80′s. Just the other day on a christian radio station they were talking about things from your childhood that are not available anymore. The DJ said Charles Chips, but the younger producer had no idea what he was talking about. I hope you don’t mind, but I am emailing him a link to this page so he can learn about these wonderful chips.

  10. Noel says:

    I remember the Charles Chips man coming to our house in Little Rock Arkansas as near ago as the late 1970′s. We didn’t have to be home when he came – just left the tins on the our back porch, took the empty tins and our check in payment. Then one day he didn’t come at all. That was a sad day at our home. No more Charles Chips.

  11. Fred says:

    My wife and I were just talking about Charles Chips and Pretzels…so I looked it up. Those were great tasting products. It appeaers they did not do enough adds on TV or radio….I wonder if some one is still around thay has the formulas for those products?

    Thanks for info on a good company that appears to be no more….
    Fred

  12. Rebecca says:

    Just bought a Charles Chips tin at a consignment shop. I had never heard of them. Decided to look it up and found this info.

  13. Steve says:

    My Dad was a Charles Chips distributor in N.Y. In the early 1990′s, Musser Potato Chips, whom owned the company had finacial problems and went bankrupt. The comapny was put up for sale, but a suitable buyer was never found. I recall in the 1ate 1980′s the company was concentrating on the retail bag business in supermarkets and not so much on home delivery. What was better then the chips in the can, was the toll house chocolate chip cookies. WOW, those were good.

  14. Angie says:

    Do they still make the dill pickle flavored ones from Charles Chips? I have been craving them for years and never get around to looking them up. Now that I’m pregnant for the first time, this is a MUST on my “TO DO” list. If someone has a direct phone number or web site, i would greatly appreciate it.
    Sincerely,
    Angie in Orlando

  15. Connie says:

    Can someone please send me information on where there is a charlie chip store so I can get some of there great chips. Thanks.

  16. Pam says:

    Does anyone want to purchase a Charlie Chips can?

  17. Keith says:

    HI! I grew up in the country. But when I was A kid in the early 70′s. My family and I lived in chattanooga, tn.That’s where my dad went to bible college and I do remember the JEWEL T truck that ran a route close to where we lived.NICE MEMORIES! THANK YOU!

  18. Mags says:

    LOVED Charles Chips! Our guy came every two weeks for years. Then one day it stopped – no warning – we think the poor man died. Those were the best chips. :)

    My parents saved their old cans and have picked up others at antique stores. As strange (and morbid!) as this sounds, when they die, they want to be cremated and have the Charles Chips can used as the urn for their ashes… with just a little bit of grease and salt left in the can – LOL!!

    For those still looking for them, I’ve seen them in the Cracker Barrel gift shops. But I haven’t seen a truck in years. We live in Ohio, btw. Miss those chips!

    :) Mags

  19. Kym Conway says:

    Oh the wonderful memories!! Thanks for that!! Just makes me miss them even more!! They were so yummy!!

  20. Rich says:

    I loved those chips, when my former spouce and I were living in Dover Del. we delivered those chips. It was extra spending money.. Most folks remember the small cans.. well they had bigger ones too.. I have one of the small (normal) cans in my kitchen sealed still full.. I do remember the big seller was the BarBQ chips and then they had a short run of extra BarBQ.. Ahh now I have the taste for some chips.. I can see the stack of chip cans on the wall in the basement now. We use to call our customers and take an order then we called the suppier and he delivered to us.. yep It was in the 80′s.. nice to know others miss them as well

  21. HeaIfeelOld says:

    What memories! I hadn’t thought of this in years. For as long as I can remember of my early childhood living in south Florida we always had a biweekly delivery of Charles Chips. Always plain (Dad insisted and would sit down in front of the tv with his can and some french onion dip), sometimes a second tin of of BBQ. If my sisters and I were good, Mom might also get a small tin of pretzels. If we were really good (or, I suppose, if she had a craving – probably more likely), she would also get us a TINY tin of the chocolate covered star cookies. They were coated in tiny white round sprinkles. Does anyone remember those? I remember being home sick and my mom giving me some of those. Ahhh, geez, those really were some sweet years (no pun intended). I can only hope that my children end up with some cherished childhood memories of something wonderful we’ve done for them.

  22. Neal says:

    Ahhh,,,,The Charles Chips man would leave the chips, pretzels and cookies, next to the “milk box” on the stoop,,,fresh milk and cookies delivered to the door,,,those WERE the days!

  23. trish says:

    I loved Charles Chips! Has it really been that long? I am watching the movie Mermaids and they have a can of Charles on their kitchen counter. I have some of the cans still but with I could get them refilled. I also love those chocolate stars. I just bought them again this holiday at Target. I think they are just at Christmas but they are called fudge holiday stars and I think they are put out by Market Pantry. I bought some for a friend and they couldnt believe I found them, and they still taste the same.

  24. Ryan says:

    The best flavor was the Salt and Vinegar. I could eat a can of those in one sitting. I miss those chips.

  25. Patti says:

    OMG YESSS!!! Didn’t they sell some kind of chocolate treat thing too – I remember something called ICE CUBES … talk about bringing back memories!!

  26. Dolly says:

    I remember these chips from when I used to go visit my Aunt & Uncle for the summer! They were so good:) I have many good memories of these!

  27. Joanne says:

    Grew up in Cleveland. LOVED THOSE CHIPS – greasy and salty – nothing can compare. Moved to KC in the late 60′s – found a can at a liquor store once. Wish I could remember where it was.

  28. Alycyn says:

    I remember them. We used to get the chips and the pretzels. I was so excited when we moved to Arizona and was able to get them here.

  29. joel says:

    you can get them at cracker barrel

  30. amy t says:

    we had charles Chips in Cortland NY delivered too, same cans. it was great!!

  31. Denny says:

    Ohhhhh what memories! My sister and I used to love them! We lived in South Florida in the 70′s and used to love Charles Chips! If I am not mistaken they even sold Chocolate Chip cookies too. We still have a few chip cans in my mother’s garage!

  32. Carina says:

    Was just talking about Charlie Chip the other day at work!

  33. john kindt says:

    Yes – they had dark tins too – and also sold cookies. I still can remember the smell that waffed upwards after prying the lid off that over-sized vat of chips. A mystical memory laced with the days when Pine State milk was delivered to your door from an orange refrigerated truck. Thanks for the post – the mere visual of the can brought back so many great thoughts….

  34. Jimmy Simpson says:

    I have very fond memories of the Charles Chips truck. There was a Charles Chips man who lived on the same street as me when I was a kid. Me and the CC man’s daughter used to mess around in the back of the CC truck! Oh, and the chips were pretty good too.

  35. jay kauffman says:

    They are back and you can get them at the Vermont Country Store website

  36. charles says:

    wow, lot of memories here. don’t know if you all are aware of it, but Charles Chips are back!!! we have acquired the original recipes and trademarks and have recently reintroduced the product. online only for now here is the site. http://www.charleschips.com
    Facebook.com/charleschips
    twitter. charles_chips.
    hope to hear from you all.

  37. Yvette Carol says:

    We didn’t have CC over here in NZ. But we did have milk and fresh bread delivered into the milk/bread box on our driveway. I told my youngest son about this the other day and he looked at me like I was straight out of the Ice Age too! So I’m feelin’ ya. I can remember too, at Christmas time, the tradition was to leave a couple of beers in the box, for each delivery man as a gift….

  38. Pam says:

    Was watching TV & there it was a Charlie Chips can, I just had to google it. My grandfather & uncle were distributors & we got some nice benefits from that. They are now back in business, same receipts new owners. Chips in tins can be purchased online. I just bought them can’t wait for it to arrive.

  39. Mary says:

    Wow!!! As I was reading all of the comments, my mouth was watering. I,too,remember the Charlie Chip man coming. What fond memories! Glad to see I can purchase them online for now.

  40. Chuck says:

    I remember Fridays as being the greatest day in week. Atlanta Dairy would deliver 2 gallons of sweet milk, 1 half gallon of buttermilk, 2 pounds of butter, and 1 gallon of ice cream, and the Charles Chips Man would deliver our chips. Would run home from school for a snack of chips ans a glass of Tang and knowing that my Mom had baked a cake with the fresh milk and butter and fresh bisquits with the buttermilk. This happened every Friday rain or shine, sort of brings a tear to my eye.

  41. Mark814 says:

    Don’t know if this is true or not, but supposedly my grandpa and Charles were drinking and bowling buddies. Charles was losing his butt in the business and was telling my grandpa he didn’t know what to do? According to family my grandpa said, “Why don’t you do what no one else does and deliver?” Charles thought my grandpa was drunk and blew him off. I guess as a last resort he gave it a try and the rest of us know what a success it was! Chips in the tan cans and pretzels in the brown cans. I swear I can still taste them!

  42. Mark814 says:

    Wow, just saw the post above that they are back! Thanks Charles, the wife is doing our order right now!

  43. Mark814 says:

    I just found the Wiki on the story and I guess it’s Si that my grandpa would have known? FWIW, here’s the wiki;

    https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=when+did+charles+chips+first+start+delivering

  44. carlos says:

    Yea,where are those trucks and chips ? They were the best! I was always looking for the truck. If you guys are out there you are missed.

  45. Andrea Gephart says:

    I just asked my dad… we still have our Charlie Chips can. I’m the baby of the family (43) and I recall from my earliest memories the Charlie Chips can always being there.

  46. Michelle says:

    I grew up eating Charles Chips. I still remember coming home from school to see the round tin can sitting on our front step. What a great memory. Does anyone know if Effie or Si Musser is still alive? I just read their story on the website.

  47. Steve says:

    Effie and Si are not alive (they were my grandparents, Nanny and Pappy as we called them). Charles Chips (in my biased opinion) is one of the greatest American success stories there is. As a little kid I got to work in the chip and pretzel factories (and of course was able to “sample” many products) and the memories I have of hanging with Pappy and Nanny will forever be some of my fondest. At one point in my life it was my dream (and I suspect it still is a bit) to get Charles Chips back in the family and return it to where it once was and beyond. There have been a few different owners since our family owned the company and I sincerely hope that the new owners are finally able to have some success with it. I take the greatest pride in telling stories about my Nanny and how she started the company. She was an incredibly remarkable woman and my whole family misses her a great deal. What a great treat to read all of these memories on this site.

  48. Judy says:

    Steve, is your father’s name Si, also? He was a very kind man and loved by so many in Lancaster.

  49. Laura says:

    I remember in the early 70′s my Grandma always had a huge tin of Charles Chips on top of her refrigerator. I was at her house one day when they were delivered, and was so excited when they came. She passed not many years after that and I never got to eat any more. I’m going to order some and put the tin on top of the fridge just to bring back such sweet memories I have of her and the times we had together.

  50. Carol says:

    I clicked on the image of the Charles Chip truck and it brought me to this blog. My husband was one of those beloved Charles Chip men here in NC and it was very interesting to read all the comments. He was proud of what he did and greatly believed in the product he sold. He also loved talking to people and visiting so many homes and businesses, and the people loved him in return. We still have some of the tins on display here in the house.

  51. Judy says:

    My father was a Charles chips man in Decatur, Georgia. He used to bring home chips, cheese twist, cookies. The regular chips and the barbeque were the best. When my brother and I were in high school we would help my father out on saturday’s and he would pay us to help him on his route so he would get through quicker. We would go to each customes house and they new that charles chips was coming. Sometimes at christmas time, they would give us a gifts. I still have one of the tins on top of my refridgerator. And my mother also has one too.

  52. Mark G says:

    I just saw a tin @ a deli in Smithtown, NY and didn’t know that they were around again. I fondly remember the deliveries to my Grandparent’s house in the 60s at least 2 tins of pretzels & chips every Friday.

  53. Ian says:

    Charles Chips was a very fond memory for me as a child. Not to mention they were the best chips you could get. I have thought about them in the past every so often, even told stories to my wife about how good they were and how cool it was that they were delivered to the house in tins. And now…
    I am in a Kroger and there they were. The tins of Charles Chips on sale!!! The tin was a little expensive and slightly smaller than the original but there it was. Then right behind them was BAGS OF CHARLES CHIPS!!!! Original, and Barbecue! Great price too. I bought a bag and they are everything I remember. The best chip ever!! Wish we still had a tin.

  54. Joyce says:

    I seem to recall that Charles Chips came in “ketchup” flavor as well. Does anybody else recall this, or am I dreaming? My family did not get them delivered to our home, but my friends and I would go to a local farmers’ market (So Cal) in the late ’80s and there was always a Charles Chips booth there.

  55. Dawson Lande says:

    I was a Charles Chip distributor in the 60′s and 70′s and 80′s..Had over 14 route trucks delivering Charles products.In the 70′s most woman were working because of the bad economy so no one was home during the day.Homes were cutting down om expenses so they cut chips out of the budget. Company started selling to supermarkets which killed what was left of home delivery. We started selling to offices, and beauty parlors etc. Company went bust and the takeover companies did not use the original recipes so they too went bust. The new owner of the name uses the original formulas. It is very expensive now. You can use Vermont Country store which is cheaper or even Amazon. Selection is limited but the chips really taste good. I hope they do well.

  56. Mary Beth Spann says:

    YES! Love, loved, loved Charles Chips as a kid growing up in Buffalo, NY. Just seeing the image of the tin makes my mouth water. It brings back memories of lazy winter Sundays with my parents, sister and friends as we played cards or board games or watched TV while munching on Charles Chips and Bison Brand French Onion Dip. Of course, there was also plenty of pop. It also conjures memories of BBQs with family and friends at our summer cottage on Lake Erie. I remember the smell and the taste. The BEST. Mmmm… *SIGH*

  57. Linda Connelly says:

    does anyone remember the cheese pretzels and animal coolies they made. The cheese pretzels were to die for I wish they still produced them along with the chips I sure miss them. I worked as a RN in a pediatric office and after giving the kids shots they were rewarded with chips, pretzels and cookies needless to say that stopped the crying right away

  58. Karen Hollifield says:

    Does anyone remember during the sixties when they were at their peak what the can actually cost to refill every week.

  59. Wendy says:

    I remember Charles Chips very well growing up! I worked down the street in Mountville, PA, if I remember correctly. It was very long ago. Awesome chips!

  60. Win says:

    I worked as a pilot in the 1980s for a fixed-base operator at the Lancaster Airport that was co-owned by the Mussers. I have fond memories of Si stopping by to fly one of his planes. On occasion I would fly him, or one of his children or grandchildren, either to the Ponderosa hunting camp that they owned, or to NY to catch a commercial flight somewhere. He was always very nice to me and I have nothing but fond memories of him.

  61. Kimberley says:

    We used to have a Charles Chip delivery guy back in the early 80′s. Does anyone remember their chocolate-covered potato chips? They were to die for!

  62. Brian says:

    I still have 8 cans

  63. Carol says:

    Wow, I woke up early this a.m and for some bizarre reason, had a vivid memory of the Charles Chips can. How crazy is that since I wasn’t even living at home anymore when my family started getting them (and chocolate chip cookies) delivered!

  64. Beth says:

    I too remember Charles Chips. I was very young when we would have them delivered. I still have a tin that my mother had kept. It did hold my cookie cutters, but is now displayed on top of my cabinets in my kitchen.

  65. MJL says:

    Like so many others on here, I just had a memory pop up about that brown and yellow Charles Chips can. I was only about 5 years old when we got these delivered to our home. I remembered the can, which sat in a specific spot in my moms pantry into the 80′s. I guess she was hoping that they would start delivering them again. I thought I remembered a home delivery service, but I had to Google it to be sure my memory was correct. I have a memory of passing the Charles Chip truck on the way home one day, while riding with my mom, and her telling me “You’re in luck. You can get some chips before your brother gets his hands on them”. Then, as we pulled in the driveway, the can was sitting on the back steps. I do remember that my brother, who was 12 years older than me, had amazing/disgusting eating abilities. He probably was famous for eating the entire can of chips in one sitting, but I don’t specifically remember that fact. But my memory of moms comment seems to confirm that. I also remember my mom buying two carts worth of groceries back in those days, since there were 5 of us kids living at home. I was born 12 years after the next youngest, so I barely have memories of everyone living at home. My oldest sister went to college in 1973, and never came back to live at home again, and the next one went in 1974, but she did return home to live several times over the years. My brother would have graduated high school in 1974 as well, and left for the Navy that fall. That has to be about the time of my memory, since the company stopped delivering that year, and I don’t have any memories of them after that day. It may have even been the last delivery. I wish someone was still around, so I could ask about these things, but they are all gone now. My mom ended up outliving all of them, but she died back in 2010. I am the sole survivor. That can sat in the pantry for years, but it must have been thrown away at some point, because I did not find it when I cleaned out my parents house after my mom died. I have no idea why that memory popped in my head tonight, but it did. I decided to Google it, to see if my memories were correct, and I ended up finding this site. Thanks for posting this here.

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